The past few years, I’ve been really into “attempting to successfully complete actions that I would otherwise find difficult or unpleasant,” with mixed results. For instance, I now jog on a semi-regular basis without completely hating every minute of it, I successfully ironed a shirt without burning a hole in it, and I even got a flu shot last winter and didn’t even faint. I’m practically one of those octogenarians who run marathons (main takeaway from those stories: “Iron Man at 85? Great, I have plenty of time. Another round, please!”). However, I still haven’t taught myself to like coconut milk or cilantro (“You know what this dish needs? More soap.”), and my financial strategy so far has been, “Siri, how do you buy a stock?” Hey, it’s a process.
This post kills two birds with one self-improvement stone: baking bread, and learning how to use my phone to its fullest extent. Speaking of, my refusal to update my phone on any sort of regular basis may soon be eclipsed by my all-consuming need to communicate exclusively through the new taco emoji. We put a man on the moon in 1969, but couldn’t instantly express our need for Mexican food to our friends through symbol via satellites until 2015, SMDH. Priorities, people.
I’ve tried making yeast breads before, and it’s always resulted in an absolute crash-and-burn. Well, not-rise-and-soggy. Shaack’s cinnamon buns: recommended if you like pre-made pizza dough that someone forgot to bake but then left out on the counter overnight topped with liquified Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I chalk this up to 1) an inability and/or disinterest in reading directions (are IKEA dresser drawers supposed to close all the way?), and 2) my tendency to start ambitious baking projects at 10 p.m. after half a bottle of white wine (see Figure 1). Great idea for cookies, abysmal idea for yeast breads, which require several hours of kneading, proofing, kneading, proofing, etc.
Yeast breads will be a project for another day (and, fret not, the inevitable disaster will be well-documented here), but I figured I’d at least build my confidence with a quick (non-yeast) bread. Also, these apples weren’t going to eat themselves. That’s right: it’s Basic Bubba Gump, Part 2!
Having just made an incredibly sweet dessert for my first apple endeavor, I tried to steer this bread into savory territory with the addition of cheese and fresh herbs. This apple cheddar bread is a little sweet, a little salty, with just enough sage to make you pencil it in as a possible addition to your Thanksgiving menu. It came out a touch dry for my taste (user error, most likely), but if you dip it in soup (to be continued) or eat it with over easy eggs at breakfast, you hardly even notice. Also, having freshly baked bread for lunch the next day made me feel like Michael Pollan was going to personally deliver a Best Foodie trophy (made of mason jars and the souls of abandoned urban farm chickens) to me at any given moment, completely ignoring the fact that just last weekend I Postmated a sushi-rito to my apartment.
Also, I finally learned how to fully use Afterlight on my phone, and now we all reap the rewards. Here’s what this bread would look like if my cat were sitting next to it:
And this is for when you’re feeling bread as fuck:
Apple Cheddar Bread (from Gimme Some Oven)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 8 tbsp. butter, room temperature (or, if you’re like me every single time I bake, “slightly melted on one side from trying to quickly bring it to room temperature by putting it on top of the oven)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature and beaten with a fork
- 2 cups apples, unpeeled & finely shredded (I used Pink Lady and Enterprise because, again, apple orchard)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2-3 Tbsp. minced sage
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9” loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
On medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs until combined. By hand, mix in the flour mixture. Fold in the apples, cheese, and sage. Spread batter into prepared pan.
Bake until risen, about 45 minutes. According to this recipe, you should cool before serving, but good luck with that. Let your accomplishment of semi-successful quick bread go to your head. Check the time. 10 p.m.? Great. Uncork that bottle of wine and prepare to fly too close to the ciabatta sun. You’ve got this, Icarus.