Wednesday, September 7, 2011

welcome, autumn: apricot almond bread.

this year, september means change. change of location, change of weather, change of career. i made the first of many changes to come this fall with a massive transatlantic move. i no longer reside in the sunshine capital of the world (bremen, germany), but i've moved back to the u.s.a and will soon be relocating to northern california. for the moment though, i'm spending some layover time in arizona with my parents, puppies, and 105 degree weather. i don't know about the rest of the country, but tucson has yet to get the memo about autumn. still, i know in my heart of hearts that september ushers in fall, so i'm going to start lobbying the desert, even if it stubbornly resists!

one of the joys of being back in my childhood stomping grounds is purely materialistic: all of my stuff is here! by stuff, i mean anything from to my raggedy old stuffed dog to the cookbook collection that has been growing over the last year, prompted by the founding of this blog. i never bothered schlepping the books with me across the ocean, so when i returned home, it was a lovely sight to see them neatly stacked on my bookshelf, just waiting to be opened. 

first on the list: molly katzen's new moosewood cookbook. simple, hearty vegetarian fare. this is one of the few recipe books that isn't filled with pictures that can still make me salivate. her dishes range from light and delicate to rich and decadent, but i decided to kick things off with something in the middle. this loaf is the perfect mildly sweet way to start the day or satisfy a mid-afternoon craving. dried apricots and chopped almonds give it a nice crunch and a beautiful color, and the honey a comforting sweetness. the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of orange rind, but i omitted that in favor of an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. one thing to note is that the loaf is relatively dry, so if you like a gooier bread, try adding in another 1/4 cup honey or tablespoon of butter.
apricot almond bread
from molly katzen's the new moosewood cookbook

1 ½ cups dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups water
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
½ cup runny honey
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almonds, chopped

preheat the oven to 350 F. grease a loaf pan.

place apricots and water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. pour contents into a separate bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes.

combine dry ingredients (except almonds) in a medium-sized bowl.

once the apricot mixture has cooled, pour in the honey and butter in it. beat in the egg and add the vanilla extract.

pour the dry ingredients into the wet (or vice versa!) and add the almonds bit by bit, stirring constantly.

when everything is well mixed, transfer to the prepared baking pan. bake for about 50 minutes, or until a probe comes out clean. let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before attempting to remove. slice and enjoy as is, or with some honey, jam, or condiment of choice.