February 1, 2009

Almond Applesauce Bread

I was lucky enough to win a prize from this year's Menu For Hope and it arrived this past week. The prize I won came from Heidi Robb of Life in Recipes. It included an almond milk making kit, 2 beautiful hand-thrown mugs and an autographed menu from Michael Symon. I've been wanting to make my own nut milk for awhile, so I was excited to try my kit immediately. For my first batch of milk I followed Heidi's recipe. It was so much more flavorful than the boxed and a real treat. The way I liked it best was in my morning hot cereal. I kept the almond pulp as well and wanted to find a way to use it up. Through the convoluted pathways of my brain, an applesauce quick bread was born.

I've been trying to use up the remaining summer stores in our freezer. I had a couple of packages of homemade applesauce from my son Alex's enthusiastic apple picking this past fall. No one in our house will eat applesauce straight up except for me so I needed to repurpose it. In browsing the recent Daring Baker entries I visited a site with a parsnip cake sweetened with dates. Mix together those ideas in my head and out came an applesauce bread with almond milk pulp, sweetened with dates. Wonderfully the experiment was successful! Though the sweetness is much more subtle compared to the often cake-like banana breads it was just sweet enough for me. It also was moist and the almond pulp gave it a little chewiness. The bread was a big hit with my husband as well. I tried the recipe again with pre-ground almond meal and it works well but you do lose the fiber from the almond peels that are included in the milk pulp. I hope to keep making weekly batches of almond milk and more variations on this bread. Thanks Heidi!

Creamy Nut Milk recipe from Life in Recipes
I love Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Hot Cereal. It was fantastic made with homemade almond milk!
My next batch of almond milk will be date sweetened per a recent Raw Comfort Foods Class I attended.

Almond Applesauce Bread
This is subtly sweet and very flavorful. It was developed as a way to use up the pulp leftover from making almond milk but works just as well with other ground almonds or almond meal.
Makes 1 (8-inch x 4-inch) loaf

4 oz (~2/3 cup) pitted dates
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
2 eggs
1 cup almond meal (or wrung out pulp from making almond milk)

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Soak the dates in warm water for at least 10 minutes.
-Sift (or whisk) together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
-Place the applesauce and the dates (with the extra soaking water strained off) in the bowl of a food processor and process until the dates are chopped and evenly distributed. *You could also try doing this step in a blender and then mixing the rest of the recipe by hand but I used the food processor to make fewer dirty dishes.
-Add the margarine and process until combined. Add the eggs and again process until combined. Add the almond meal or almond milk pulp and pulse to combine.
-Add the flour mixture to the food processor in three stages, pulse 1-2 times after each addition. Then pulse until all the flour is combined with the wet ingredients.
-Coat a 8"x4" loaf pan with spray oil and spoon the batter evenly into the pan.
-Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean.
-Cool for 5 minutes and then remove the loaf from the pan and cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.

These recipes were helpful/inspirational:
Applesauce Nut Bread from Baking Bites
Parsnip, Date & Banana Cake (vegan and gluten-free) from Creative Recipes for Wandering Minds

Isn't this mug fantastic!! See more beautiful pottery at Ellen Shankin Pottery.
(And yes, that's homemade almond milk in the mug.)Bonus Abbie shot