When it comes to Autumn and Winter, smells and flavours are everything; from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Chia Tea and mulled wine, there is something so cosy and comforting about the spices of the season.
Something else that comes to mind for me in the run into Halloween is the Irish tradition of eating Barmbrack; the story goes that whoever finds the ring in the brack will be the first in the family to get married. I vividly remember eating this fruit loaf by the bucket loads with butter spread on top, and arguing with my sisters about who would get the ring should my dad find it in his slice.
I wanted to create a recipe that captured all my favourite parts of fall in one loaf, a nod to the Brambrack, but without the ring. This apple cinnamon loaf is sweet and comforting, perfect on it’s own but also great served warm with a little bit of custard or toasted with butter on top. Best of all, this recipe is completely vegan, so if you are having friends over for Halloween this is an easy snack to prepare that is seasonal and caters to all needs (you could even make it gluten free just by swapping out the flour for a GF alternative).
For some reason the idea of baking bread is daunting to most, but while it may be a slow process (you will need patience to leave your dough sit for up to an hour) it isn’t a complicated one and there is something very impressive about serving up bread you baked yourself to friends and family.
- 1 tsp fast action yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2½ cups flour (preferably strong bread flour, alternatively GF for a celiac friendly loaf)
- Extra flour for dusting
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1½ tbsp cinnamon
- 1 red apple
- ⅓ cup sultanas
- ⅓ cup maple syrup (plus extra from glazing)
- 1 loaf tin
- 1 large mixing bowl (preferably glass)
- 1 small frying pan
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup lukewarm water. Leave to sit for 5-7 minutes until a froth or foam develops on the top of the water.
- Melt the butter in a pan over low heat; add the cinnamon, mix through and then set aside to slightly cool.
- Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and yeast mixtures and bring together using a wooden spoon until a dough ball forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for at least five minutes. Clean and dry the mixing bowl and return the dough to it, covering it over loosely with a clean tea-towel.
- Leave the dough to sit for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, finely dice the apple and stew in a pan with 1 cup water. Once the apple has soften, and the water has began to reduce, add the maple syrup and sultanas. Bring down to a low heat and continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced to a syrup consistency. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.
- Once the dough is ready tip ½ the cooled fruit mixture into the bowl and begin to knead it into the dough (while still in the bowl), repeat with the second half of the fruit. The dough will become sticky at this point.
- Turn out onto a flour surface again and continue to knead until the dough is firm and all the fruit has been fully kneaded through.
- Place the dough in a lightly floured loaf tin and use you fingers to lightly press it into the corners of the tin. Cover with a tea-towel again and leave to sit for a further 30 minutes.
- Remove the tea-towel and brush the top of the loaf with some maple syrup to glaze. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown on top and a hallow sound is heard with the base of the loaf is tapped.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve as is, or with warm custard.