For many, many years I used to run up to the local health food store and get one of their delicious muffins…well, maybe more than one…to have for my breakfast. They made a few different kinds, but the one I loved the best featured fresh cranberries, apples and walnuts in a dense, moist muffin that had some underlying spice to it. I became addicted.
Some years ago the health food grocery closed their little deli section and changed over to a deli case, one which unfortunately meant the end to those muffins. But I remember them so well, and I’ve always wanted to recreate them.
This is a very close representation of those flavors. It’s not a muffin, though you could certainly make some muffins out of this recipe. It does feature fresh cranberries, which I happen to have a lot of in my freezer at the moment. But if you can’t get them right now or at all, by all means substitute another cup of apple or some pear for the cranberries, perhaps in small chunks for contrasting texture to the grated apple. Or better yet, feel free to experiment and try your own favorite berry or fruit that you think goes well with apple.
I particularly enjoy the contrasting tart pop of fresh cranberry in your mouth against the mildly sweet background of the apple and walnut in this bread. This loaf isn’t an overly sweet thing…in fact I would venture to say it’s a pretty healthy entry into the quick bread category. But it does make a perfect slice for breakfast, and even has just enough sweetness for dessert, in my opinion!
Cranberry Apple Walnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf
3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 (generous) teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups grated Pink Lady apple (or other baking apple) with skin (about 2 medium apples)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/3 cup low fat milk
1 cup fresh cranberries, whole
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one standard loaf pan with unsalted butter and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the wheat flour, the white flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. In another large bowl, beat the sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended, then add the egg and beat until combined. On low speed, add the grated apple, dry flour mixture and the milk in about 3 alternating batches to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating each ingredient until just incorporated, do not over beat. Gently stir in the cranberries and walnuts with a spatula or spoon, then transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the loaf is shrinking from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool on the rack until just warm or at room temp. Cut into slices and serve. This makes a great gift, too!