I developed this recipe to serve with cheese, and it is one I make a lot because it is so easy to throw together. It’s not really a bread as there is no yeast involved so I like to think of it as a loaf with a somewhat cakey texture. Using buttermilk gives it its savoury edge and the maple syrup adds a faint hint of smokey sweetness. Fabulous served with a cheeseboard, particularly one offering Brie or sharp cheddar cheese, it is also delicious spread thickly with butter for breakfast.
You can use any kind of apples for this recipe, from sweet eating apples to more tart cooking apples. Bearing in mind that I recommend you serve it with cheese you don’t want it to be too sweet, but if you like things on the sweet side I would choose to use eating apples. I nearly always use Bramley apples, a popular British cooking apple which makes the bread very savoury. If you do use cooking apples though, be careful of their size as they can be really big. You really only want the equivalent of two ordinary fist sized apples - if you use really big ones the bread will be too moist. If your apples are very large, just use one.
This bread is best baked the day before and allowed to rest before serving. Or if you are using it as part of the cheese course for a dinner party you could bake it in the morning and let it sit for the day. Simply wrap it tightly in foil once it is cooled to keep it moist. It does taste lovely warm from the oven, but attempts to slice it while it is still warm usually result in a crumbly mess, so I do try to restrain myself and save it till later!
¼ cup butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
¼ cup maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1¼ cups plain (all purpose) flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
2 apples, peeled, cored and grated
(wait until the last minute to do this so that the apples do not brown)
¾ cup to 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Prepare a loaf tin by buttering and flouring it, or line with greaseproof paper or a liner. Preheat the oven to 175℃ or 350℉.
Whisk the butter, maple syrup, egg and buttermilk together in a large jug. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, bicarbonate of soda and nutmeg. Add the chopped nuts. Peel, core and grate the apples into the flour mixture and blend together.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together gently until well mixed.
Put the mixture in the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the top is slightly golden and a piece of dried spaghetti stuck into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Take the loaf out of the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing it and cooling completely on a wire rack. The loaf will keep, well wrapped in foil in a cool place, for two to three days.