Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easy Cheddar and Apple Bread--An Excuse to Empty my Pantry

When I visit grocery stores, one reflection often comes to my mind--there are many products that I never buy because I simply do not know how to use them. Especially here in America I have this feeling more often than in Europe. Peaking into someone else's cart, and seeing things that I never buy myself, I wonder what these people do with that (especially in such amounts). Recently, when I was buying ingredients for my Christmas cake, I carefully looked at the packages to make sure that I do not buy accidentally something that I do not know how to use.

It happened a couple of months ago when in a rush I bought a bag of self-rising flour instead of the regular one. Most of my cakes or tarts do not contain baking powder and only some of them require just a teaspoon of it or less. I also hardly use baking soda in my recipes. For that reason I do not know how to use a self-rising flour, especially that I cannot imagine how much baking powder is in it. But because of my mistake I had a bag of it on my pantry shelf. Ever since I made that mistake I had been desperately looking for recipes to use this flour before it became too old for anything. Recently, being in a mood for baking a variety of different breads, I found one such recipe in my old English cookbook. This bread always looked very appetizing to me, but required self-rising flour, which has always put me off. But this time it was a perfect time to try it out.

I come from a yeast-based bread culture and only such breads truly love, but I was willing to make a different one just to try out this self-rising flour.
Breads based on baking powder and soda come from the English or Irish tradition. The one I found also had cheddar cheese, apples, and peanuts, which made it much more than just a bread. I used walnuts as I am not a big fan of peanuts. The bread came out drier than the yeast-based bread, almost as a kind of spicy cake, but its shape and texture were bread-like and the whole result was not bad at all. Since I still have a lot of that flour left, I think that--before I discover some other recipes for its usage--I will make those breads a couple of times more.

Cheddar and Apple Bread
(Adapted from the Good Housekeeping New Step-by-Step Cookbook)

1 1/2 cup self raising flour,
1 cup aged cheddar cheese coarsely grated,
2 tbsp butter,
1 medium apple, peeled off and grated on a big hole grater,
1/2 cup nuts-- I used walnuts, the original recipe calls for peanuts but any kind would probably work as well,
1 egg,
5 tbsp milk,
1 tbsp vegetable oil,
freshly ground pepper.

1. Put flour in a large bowl and using fingers rub the butter in it.
2. Add grated cheese, apple, pepper and chopped nuts. Mix all the ingredients.
3. Whisk together egg and milk, pour them into the flour mixture, and make a soft dough.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F.
5. Grease lightly the baking sheet with oil and place dough on it formed into a flat disk with diagonal cuts on top.
6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Just a couple of slices with butter make a rich and fulfilling lunch and can be served with salads. It tastes best on the same day.