This Apple Sultana Loaf was not intended to embody the Taste Without Waste philosophy in a literal sense. Oh no. It had rather been assigned to the other major position of relatively-healthy-but-still-super-tasty recipe. After an unexpected turn of events it’s now also taken on the role of recipe-that-can-use-up-ingredients-that-really-shouldn’t-be-used. Taste Without Waste on two fronts…we’re doing well today aren’t we? How did we happen upon this double whammy? For the past week I’ve been staying at a family friends house and one afternoon decided to bake this loaf. After rummaging through their dried fruit stores I could not see no hide nor hair of sultanas. There was however two packets of mixed dried fruit. Why, I could just pick the sultanas out! Problem solved. Better than making a trip down to the supermarket and back, right? Hmmm. After opening the first packet (which had already been opened at some point) I wasn’t so sure. The stuff was practically fossilised. Dry and crystallized to say the least. The best before date? November 2010.
Now, I’m quite happy to use a number of products (there remains to be some steadfast exceptions) despite passing their expiry date. Often a quick sniff or visual evaluation will provide more than enough indication as to whether the product is still safely edible. This packet of mixed dried fruit erred on the more dubious end of the spectrum. Into the chooky bucket it went. The next packet was unopened. A more promising start. The best before date? Also November 2010. Right.
Slitting open the packet for further inspection, it appeared that this batch of mixed fruit wasn’t quite so crystallised and, well, suspicious looking. We came to the conclusion that it was doubtful anyone would die from consuming ancient dried fruit. Why, baking may indeed help to revive it! Elevate it to an edible level.
Did it work? Were we rolling around on the floor clutching our stomachs the following day? I’m happy (and relieved) to say that the loaf turned out just dandy. Moist and subtly sweet thanks to the grated apple – be sure to select a naturally sweet apple such as a Pink Lady rather than a Granny Smith – with a delightfully crumbly, whole-wheaty texture. ‘Solid’ enough to work for breakfast as well as afternoon tea. Smear with salty butter and you’re good to go. A dab of jam or honey too, if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
The mixed dried fruit? It cooked up just fine, swelling in the same way as the sultanas ususally do. Mixed dried fruit does alter the flavour of the loaf, but in no way demeans it. I personally still prefer to use sultanas (the candied peel can override the honey-apple flavour) but either will do the trick. If you’ve got any bags from the dinosaur age lying around, you know what to do. I must confess the remainder of the packet found it’s way into the chooky bucket…it most certainly wasn’t appropriate for consumption in any other manner!
Apple Raisin Loaf
Makes one 12x22cm loaf.
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp clear honey, plus extra for brushing
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup whole-wheat self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 large pink lady apple, peeled and coarsely grated
1 cup sultanas (or mixed dried fruit)
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a 12x22cm (6 cup capacity) loaf tin.
Sift together the flours, salt and mixed spice. Set aside.
Beat the butter in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, until smooth. Add the sugar and honey and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually pour in the whisked eggs, beating all the while. Add a tablespoon or so of flour to prevent the mixture curdling.
Now add the flour, all at once, along with the grated apple. Stir until just combined with no pockets of flour remaining. Gently stir through the sultanas. You should have a relatively solid, yet sticky, dough.
Spoon into your prepared loaf tin and smooth the top with a damp spatula if you want a ‘neat’ finish’. Bake for 1 ¼ hours or until risen, golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Set the loaf tin on a wire rack and brush the top of the loaf with a teaspoon or two of clear honey. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing and setting on the wire rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature with butter and a little honey if you wish. Best eaten day made, however will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container. If it starts to dry out, simply pop in the toaster for a minute or two. Also freezes well.
Source: Adapted from 500 Recipes for Cakes, Pastries and Breads.