Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Apple, Gruyère, and Sage Bread

This quick bread was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Savory Cheese and Chive Bread from her recent book Around My French Table. I made this as a birthday bread for myself (I don’t like most cakes and I feel better about consuming by myself a loaf of bread rather than a cake). Once it cools, I'm opening up a bottle of Beaujolais-villages, making a nice spinach salad with soft-boiled eggs, and eating this bread, toasted and smeared with a dab of butter. I don’t know about you, but in my book that totally beats a conventional birthday cake. 

Total Time: about an hour, plus more for cooling
Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:
4 oz coarsely grated gruyère (about a cup), plus 2 oz gruyère cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1/2 a cup)
1-2 applea, peeled, cored removed, and cut into small pieces (about 1 cup total)—I used organic Fuji 
1 Tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing pan
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 C minced fresh sage
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Procedure:
Preheat the over to 350F and grease a 9x5 loaf pan with butter (or butter wrappers). Melt the tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet. Add the apple and pinch of nutmeg and cooking, stirring occasionally, until the apple has softened, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy (about a minute), then whisk in the milk and olive oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the dough just comes together (do not over-mix or the dough will become very tough). Gently stir in the cheese, apples, and sage and transfer to the loaf pan, spreading evenly with the back of a spoon—the dough will be very sticky. 

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Rotate the pan half-way through cooking time to ensure equal browning on the top of the loaf. Cool in the loaf pan on a wire rack for about five minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on the rack. 

If you don’t eat this all in one sitting, store the bread by covering tightly in plastic wrap. It should be good for two days at room temperature, or a few months if kept in a freezer.

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