APPLE, CHAMOMILE & LEMON LOAF

June 10th, 2022

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The more we recall a memory the more likely we are to remember an event. I am certain our senses also play a part in this, the more heightened they are during an experience the better we will remember. Taste in particular can transport us to an exact place and time.

One such vivid taste memory for me involves sipping hot spiced apple cider at a roadside stall in the Okanagan Valley (British Columbia, Canada, circa 2003). The orchard stall had a selection of heritage apples along with large bottles of cloudy apple cider (pressed juice, not alcoholic cider) and jars of applesauce.

Applesauce is an ingredient used in Northern American baking. It is basically puréed cooked apples (sometimes with sugar added, I don’t think it needs it) and one I know well from my Dutch grandma who always had a bowl of it on the breakfast table, or to serve alongside pork. It is easy to prepare and through autumn and winter I often have a jar of applesauce in the fridge.

How to make applesauce:

Peel, core and roughly chop 6-8 apples – choose cooking apples such as cox’s orange, sturmer pippin or ballarat, or easy to find granny smith and braeburn.

Put the apples into a saucepan with ¼ cup water (just enough to steam them), cover and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes until tender. Mash until smooth, or purée with a stick blender. A mouli or food mill can also be used here (my preference), in which case skip the peeling and coring, simply cut the apples into wedges and cook as above. Once tender, pass through a mouli to separate the creamy apple flesh from the tough core and skin. Store applesauce in a jar in the fridge and use it within a week.

Apple, Chamomile & Lemon Loaf

Apple and chamomile are such a wonderful combination with the chamomile adding a unique flavour note to the loaf. I used dried foraged chamomile flowers, rubbing the dried flowers first to break them up. The flowers are edible and cook into the loaf while adding a gentle texture to the syrup. If preferred, the syrup can be strained through a sieve to remove the herb pieces before spooning over the cooked loaf. If you don’t have a few chamomile tea bags at the ready it can be left out, but the chamomile really does add something special to this loaf.
Servings 10 Slices
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • cups (225g) plain white flour (you can use wheat, spelt or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • cup sugar or honey
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 100 ml olive oil - or use a milder oil
  • ¾ cup (about 200g) apple sauce (see directions above)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 chamomile tea bag, or 1 tsp dried chamomile (optional)

Lemon Chamomile Sauce

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 chamomile tea bag, or 1 tsp dried chamomile
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 3-4 tbsp

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C). Lightly grease a loaf tin and line with a strip of baking paper, leaving an extra overhang for lifting out the baked loaf.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil until aerated and creamy. Add the applesauce, lemon zest and the contents of the tea bag (if using). If using loose dried chamomile, rub gently between your fingers to break up the flowers. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and use a spatula to fold together until just combined. Pour into the tin and smooth off the surface. It will be quite a wet batter, this is perfect.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • While the loaf is cooking, prepare the syrup. In a small bowl combine the sugar and contents of the chamomile tea bag (again rub the loose herb to break up larger pieces if needed). Add the lemon juice and mix to combine. Set aside for the sugar to dissolve and the herb to infuse.
  • When the loaf comes out of the oven, immediately pierce it half a dozen times with a small knife then spoon over the lemon syrup (straining first to remove the chamomile if you wish).
  • Leave to cool in the tin, then use the baking paper overhang to lift and transfer the loaf to a serving plate. Cut the loaf into slices to serve, with yoghurt or on its own.

*Recipe first published 28th May on Stuff.co.nz.

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