Harvest Apple Challah

Autumn has finally arrived, and I am just loving the cooler air and lower humidity!  Having the windows open and the A/C off is wonderful!  Apples and cinnamon are two of my absolute favorites when autumn comes.  This recipe uses both and is delicious!  I can take no credit for this recipe…none at all!  I got it from Lisa over at http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/.  She got it from the King Arthur Flour website.  For the most part, I followed Lisa’s adaptation, but made just a few changes of my own.  Since it is low on sugar, it makes a great breakfast bread…served warm with butter and a drizzle of honey.

1/2 c. very warm water

1 tbsp. yeast

1/8 tsp. sugar

6 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used melted butter)

1/4 c. honey (can substitute  5 tbsp. brown sugar + 1 tbsp. water)

2 large eggs

4 c. all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1 tsp.)

2 medium to large apples, NOT peeled, but cored and chunked

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1 tsp.)

1/4 c. sugar

1 large egg + 1 tbsp. water for egg wash

In a large mixing bowl  combine the water, yeast and 1/8 tsp. sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add the oil, honey, and eggs and mix thoroughly.  Add the flour and continue to mix until dough doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. I used my standing mixer and the bread hook for this!  Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover and let rise for about 2 hours or nearly double in bulk.  Since I placed it in a warm oven to rise, it took only about an hour.

Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.  Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon.  *I cooked my apples for about 15-20 minutes to make them tender.*

Gently punch dough down and turn it out onto a lightly greased work surface.  Flatten it into a rectangle, about 8×10 inches. *I made mine a little bit bigger than that.*  Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough and fold the short side of the dough over the apples to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.

Spread remaining apples on top of the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly and sealing the apples inside.

Using a sharp knife, cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces.  This is a very messy step in the process of making this bread, but just keep on cutting, tucking the apples back inside.  Lay the chunks of dough in the pan, crowding them in and keeping them all in just one single layer.  Keep tucking the apples back inside the dough.  Let rise for about an hour or until about 2″ high.  Mine rose to almost 3 inches!!

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the egg and water together and brush it on top of the dough very gently.  Bake for about 55 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before loosening the side of the pan.  Carefully transfer bread to a cooling rack.

I served mine warm with a dab of butter and a drizzle of honey.


Chunky Applesauce Biscuits

This recipe is just perfect for the upcoming fall season.  Here in the south we are finally getting some cooler mornings!  It is so nice to wake up to a clear blue sky instead of the gray summer hazy sky we’ve been seeing for months!  Although I know it will probably get hot again, I know it won’t last. Cooler days are coming to stay for a while!

A friend at church shared this recipe with me the other week.  Mashed sweet potatoes can be used instead of chunky applesauce to give a “thanksgiving-ish” flavor to the biscuits.  Next time I make these with the applesauce, I  want to add shredded cheddar cheese.  The flavors of apple and cheese together is just amazing!

2 c. chunky applesauce

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 c. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2-3/4 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1-1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. chopped nuts

Combine the applesauce, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, melted butter and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.  In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well and add to the applesauce mixture, stirring just enough to combine.  Stir in the nuts.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees  for about 12 minutes or until golden.

If you use mashed sweet potatoes, the dough will be a bit thicker. Knead it on a floured board about 5-6 times. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with large biscuit cutter. Continue as directed.  Makes about 15 biscuits, depending on the size.

A New Twist on Banana Bread

Having a partially empty nest these days is not always easy!  I am still having trouble with making too much food and having way too many leftovers!  Ben was able to come home for Easter weekend and brought a friend with him.  He had planned to have 2 friends with him.  Knowing these guys would probably be hungry all the time, I purchased extra foods, especially fresh fruits, so that they could have healthful snacks.  A lot got eaten, but the bananas just sat there…mostly untouched, although a few were taken.  As you well know, a banana is only good if it is just the perfect shade of yellow.  Too green or too spotty and they get ignored.

I decided to use my favorite recipe for banana bread which I posted shortly after we began this blog.  You can see the recipe here:


Since I had no zucchini, I decided to make a few changes to the recipe, and the result was  yummy!  To the dry ingredients I added 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and  I used flaked coconut instead of the zucchini.  Serve with cream cheese for a wonderful snack!

Oatmeal Apple Raisin Muffins

It is hard to believe that we are already nearing the end of October!  I am so thankful for the cooler weather and low-humidity days.  The leaves are turning to their autumn colors making it just beautiful outside!  This time of year reminds me of all things apple and pumpkin, including pumpkin carving!

The crisp autumn air also gives me a desire to do more baking than I do during the summer months.  I came across this recipe from my sister the other day and thought it would be perfect as a breakfast muffin.  It is full of goodness and not too sweet…just right with a cup of hot tea or coffee!

1 egg

3/4 c. milk

1 c. raisins*

1 apple chopped in small pieces

1/2 c. apple sauce

1 c. flour

1 c. quick oats**

1/3 c. sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. cinnamon

Beat egg. Stir in remaining ingredients mixing just to moisten.  Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

*I let the raisins soak in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes to soften before I mixed them in with the rest of the ingredients. Don’t forget to drain the water off first!

**I used old-fashioned oats and let them soak in the milk a few minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.

Banana Spice Bread

It is so hard for me to believe that September and Fall are just around the corner!  But the cooler weather we’ve been experiencing in the mornings lately lets me know that Fall really is coming.  It’s been so nice to be able to open the windows and doors each morning and let in those cool breezes.   With Fall and cooler weather comes my desire to enjoy the kitchen aromas that come with the season…pumpkin; cinnamon; apples; cloves.  Mmmm, I can smell them already!

Today was the day that I needed to work with my Amish Friendship Bread starter, so I decided to try a spice bread to help create the Autumn mood in my kitchen.  I was inspired by Lisa over at   http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/    who recently posted a recipe for Banana Gingerbread.  I thought that I could adapt her recipe for one using Amish Friendship Bread starter.  It worked very well!  Don’t worry if you are not working with AFB starter.  You can easily substitute 3/4 c. buttermilk for the starter!

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. molasses

1/4 c. honey

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 c. AFB starter (or 3/4 c. buttermilk)

1/4 c. oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Grease one 9×5 loaf pan.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, molasses, honey, starter, bananas, oil, and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Stir to mix.  Pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl with the wet ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool before slicing.  Serve with butter or spread with cream cheese.

*Optional–3/4 c. chopped nuts or raisins or both would taste great in this!

Amazing Recipes for Amish Friendship Bread!

Have any of you ever worked with starter for Amish Friendship Bread?  A few years ago I enjoyed feeding my starter and making delicious breads.  I even experimented with variations.  The only problem that I had was finding new friends to whom I could give the starter when it was time to feed and divide.  It was getting a little embarrassing to discover that friends would turn away when they saw me coming with my little zip-closed baggies with starter! Oh, my!!

Then last summer a dear friend gave me a new recipe that allowed me to bake delicious breads without having to find friends for the extra starter. What a relief to be able to continue baking and still keep my friends!

This summer I discovered a wonderful website chock full of AFB variations. I had no clue that so much could be baked with this starter!  I will share with you the link to that site so that you can decide for yourself which recipes you would like to try.  I am going to share here the variation of starter and bread that you can use to control your starter, and not have it control  you!

Here is the website:  http://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com You can go to this site to find the recipe for starter and many variations of the original bread recipe.


Here is the recipe to use for controlling your starter:

On days 1-5, just squeeze the bag.

Day 6: add to the bag 1/2 c. each of flour, sugar, and milk. Squeeze the bag to mix.

Days 7-9, just squeeze the bag.

Day 10: Add 3/4 c. each of flour, sugar and milk.  Mix well.  Remove 1 cup of starter into a new baggie.

Pour the remaining starter into a large mixing bowl. To this, add. . .

4 eggs

1-1/2 c. oil

3/4 c. milk

1-1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. vanilla

2-1/4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3 c. flour

1 lg. box instant vanilla pudding

Mix all ingredients well using a wooden spoon.  This will make 3 smaller loaves or 2 large loaves, or you can make about 24 muffins.  Grease the bottom of the pans and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Pour the batter into the pans; sprinkle the tops with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Bake at 325 for about an hour for bread and 20 min. for muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean.

AFB starter is very forgiving!  It really doesn’t need to be fed ever 5 days or so.  If you miss a feeding, that’s ok!  And if you get tired of baking, the starter can be frozen until you decide to bake again.

A week or so ago, I experimented with my starter and created a recipe for sticky buns!  Yummy!  You can find the recipe on the website listed above.


Breakfast Scones

Do you ever have one of those days when you should be able to sleep in a bit but find yourself wide awake early?  I mean really early?  Like 5:30??  Today was one of those days for me.  Once I realized that falling back to sleep was an impossibility, I decided to rise, and I really did try to shine.  I thought I would just get an early start to all those Saturday chores that are inevitable. Unfortunately, upon arriving in my kitchen, I discovered that someone in my family forgot to put the outside cat back outside last night.  Figaro is a trash picker, and last night was no different.  My trashcan was over on its side and the chicken bones from dinner last night were strewn all over.  He just loves chicken bones!  Even though I was greatly annoyed for the unnecessary job the cat created for me, I flipped through my favorite Fannie Farmer cookbook and discovered a pretty easy scone recipe.  Served hot with bacon/sausage, scrambled eggs, and tea or coffee, this makes for a wonderful breakfast!

3 c. flour

1/3 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 c. shortening or butter, softened

1 c. buttermilk

3/4 c. currants

grated orange zest from one whole orange

1 tbsp. heavy cream (milk works just fine)

2 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Stir with a fork to mix well.  Cut the shortening into flour mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture looks like fresh crumbs.  Add the buttermilk, currants, and orange zest.  Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Gather the dough into a ball and press so it holds together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 12 times. Divide dough in two pieces and pat each half into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.  In a small bowl combine the cream, cinnamon, and 2 tbsp. sugar, stirring to blend.  Brush the dough with the glaze.

Cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped pieces. Place scones slightly apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve hot.

Sour Dough Bread Coffee Cake

Home baked whole wheat bread was common when I was growing up.   My mother, who was born to bake as my husband says, loved to make yeast breads.  She would divide the dough into 3 parts.  Two became loaves and the other became a delicious coffee cake.  My sister also makes wonderful coffee cakes and brings one to me every time she visits.  A few years ago, I decided to treat my family to these delicious cakes on a regular basis, and my weekly bread baking  became like mom’s:  2 loaves and one coffee cake!  It has become a regular Saturday activity for me, but they are not eaten until Sunday morning breakfast!

Sour dough starter is not as difficult as it may sound.  I have found it to be very forgiving even when I’ve neglected it for several weeks because I was just too busy to feed the starter and make my bread!

I will include the recipe for the starter and for making the bread and coffee cake.


In a one-quart mason jar pour 1 c. hot tap water; 1/2 c. sugar; 3 tbsp. potato flakes; and 2 tsp. yeast.  Stir well.  Screw on the lid and leave the jar sitting out for 12 hours. Refrigerate for a few days.  Feed the starter a day or so before you want to make bread.  To feed, add 1 c. hot tap water; 1/2 c. sugar and 3 tbsp. potato flakes.  Stir well and cover.  Leave out on counter for 12 hours.  Refrigerate or use to make bread.  I usually feed my starter after I have taken out what I need for my bread.  Make sure to keep it in the fridge after the 12 hours on the counter!


1-1/2 c. starter (stir or shake the jar before measuring out what you need.)

1 c. hot tap water

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp. salt

1-1/2 tsp. yeast

Put all these ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Stir well to dissolve  sugar and yeast.  Add approximately 2-3 cups of flour, mixing well.  Add more flour, about 3 more cups, and mix well.  Dough should be stiff.  Turn out on floured counter and knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Spray oil in mixing bowl and place dough in bowl.  Cover with light-weight towel and put in warm place to rise until doubled.  I put mine in a warm oven.  It can take 6-8 hours for the dough to rise.

Punch dough down and divide into thirds.  Grease or use spray oil on two medium loaf pans.  Place two of the dough pieces in these pans.   Grease a 9-inch cake pan.  Take the third piece of dough and roll it out on a floured counter to about 12×16 or so size.  Spread softened butter all over the dough.  Sprinkle brown sugar on top of the butter.  The amount you use is up to you!  Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the brown sugar.  Any remaining ingredients for the filling are whatever you choose.  Suggestions: chopped pecans; raisins; chopped almonds; dried cranberries; chocolate chips or any combination.  Roll the dough up beginning on the 12 inch side.  Pinch the seam to keep tight.  Lift the roll and place into the prepared cake pan forming a circle with the seam side down.  Pinch ends together.  Using a pair of kitchen shears, snip through the dough all the way around the circle, about 1-1/2 inches apart.  Place loaves and coffee cake in warm place to rise, about 6-8 hours.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Turn out on cooling racks to cool.  The bread makes delicious toast!

Drizzle the coffee cake with confectioner’s sugar glaze.

Zucchini-Banana Bread

If your garden was prolific with the zucchini this year, you might still be wondering what to do with all that squash. Other than freezing them and giving them to the neighbors, you might want to try making this delicious quick bread.  We often  make zucchini bread, and we also make banana bread.  Combining the two into one bread makes for a wonderful loaf!

4 eggs

2 c.  sugar

1 c. vegetable oil

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

3 c. flour

1-1/1 tsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1-1/2 c. shredded or chopped zucchini

1 c. chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs.  Blend in sugar and oil. Add bananas and mix well.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda,  cinnamon and salt.

Stir into egg mixture.  Stir in zucchini and nuts until just combined.  Pour into 2 large greased loaf pans or 3 medium greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool about 10 minutes in the pan; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

This recipe has great potential for variations.  I often use half brown sugar and half white sugar.  I have also used whole wheat flour.   One summer I had an abundance of yellow squash, so I substituted that for the zucchini, and everyone loved it!  Of course, using other fruits is great, too.  My personal favorite is banana-blueberry bread!

Do you get tired of bread?  Make muffins instead.  Adjust your baking time to about 20 minutes.  Both muffins and bread freeze well.  Enjoy!