There are three big apples packed in this apple bread! Loaded with warm cinnamon flavours, you’ll love how moist it is without being too sweet. This is a quick bread recipe which means, true to its name, it’s a yeast-free loaf. Fabulous for morning tea or a breakfast treat with a cup of coffee!
Cinnamon Apple Bread
I’ve been working on my Apple Pie Project (read: my perfect apple pie) and am convinced that this is the year we will crack it! But either way making apple pie is definitely a labour of love, so meanwhile I also want to share other sweet ways with apples that are faster and easier. Some favourites from my existing apple repertoire are Apple Muffins, Apple Bars, and Apple Crumble.
So here’s a big welcome to the latest addition to my apple recipe collection: today’s Cinnamon Apple Bread!
This is a good bread for sharing that’s relatively fast to make. Leftovers make a great breakfast, lightly toasted and smothered in (just a bit!) of butter.
What you need
Here’s what you need to make this Cinnamon Apple Bread. There is no missing the cinnamon in this recipe! It’s in the batter, on the apple, and on the surface!
1. The Apple
Apples – You will need 3 big apples for this recipe! 650g / 1.4 pounds in total. I like to use Granny Smith because I love the tartness and also because they hold their shape better when cooked. However, any apple will work for this recipe, though you may need to watch how quickly the slices on the surface caramelise.
You will need 2 of the apples chopped up to mix into the batter, and 1 apple cut into slices for decorating the surface. Though actually, the decorative topping is purely optional.
Cinnamon and sugar (for apple in the batter) – I like to toss the chopped up apples in a little sugar and cinnamon to get a little sweetness and flavour into the apple pieces before folding into the batter.
Demerara sugar and cinnamon (for topping) – Demerara sugar is a coarse sugar with a hint of molasses flavour that is ideal to use for sprinkling onto things to create a sparkly little crust. Turbinado makes a perfect substitute. However, if you don’t have either there is no need to get it especially. Just use brown sugar instead.
Walnuts – Entirely optional! The add a lovely soft crunch to the loaf. To be honest, I’ve made this without walnuts more often than with.
2. The Batter
Cinnamon, ginger and allspice powder – I’ve called this a Cinnamon Apple Bread because it’s the dominant spice here. But I like to add interest to the cinnamon flavour with a touch of ginger and allspice (mixed spice also works great). However, the ginger and allspice are entirely optional. You can skip them and just add more cinnamon powder.
Yogurt or sour cream – A secret weapon to make cakes and breads that are beautifully moist. Yogurt adds wetness to batters without also making it thin (unlike milk), which means you don’t need as much flour. Less flour = more moist! This also (usually) means the batter doesn’t call for “cream butter and sugar with a beater” which means (a) no waiting for butter to soften; and (b) it’s hand mixed with just a wooden spoon.
Yogurt is not suitable to use for all cakes (like my classic Vanilla Cake, Chocolate Cake) but I do use it quite regularly in baked goods – like Yogurt Lemon Cake, Easy Blueberry Cake, Strawberry Cake and Chocolate Muffins, to name a few. Even for my Cheesy Mediterranean Muffins (great non-sweet morning tea option!).
Baking powder and baking soda (bicarbonate soda) – I like to use a combination of baking powder and baking soda because while they both make baked goods rise, they behave differently. For one thing, baking soda is about 3x stronger than baking powder and for loafs such as this, it makes the surface dome more. By using a combination of the two you can control the shape of baked goods. For this apple cake, I specifically wanted just the slightest dome to keep the apple slice decoration mostly in place (big dome = apple slices splayed out in a disorderly way!).
However, the nice thing about this loaf is that the batter is very forgiving so you can use just baking soda or just baking powder. The shape of the surface will be slightly different (baking powder = level or slightly sunken, baking soda only = rounder dome), but the crumb is basically the same. I’ve popped directions in the recipe notes.
Flour – Just plain / all-purpose flour. Self-raising flour (instead of flour + baking powder + baking soda) will work but it doesn’t rise quite as well. Gluten-free – I haven’t tried!
Eggs – Preferably at room temperature so it incorporates more easily into the batter but for this batter, it’s actually not a problem if they are fridge-cold because as noted above, it’s a very forgiving recipe!
Oil – Another secret to making cakes with a moist crumb. Butter has better flavour but it dries cakes out. Why then, don’t I only use oil in cakes? Because oil is flavourless. It really only works in cakes where there’s other big flavours to compensate – like cinnamon, in this case.
Brown sugar – Not very much actually! Just 3/4 cup. I really like that this loaf is not too sweet.
Vanilla extract – For a complementary rather than dominant flavour. I really feel it’s missing something without vanilla .
Salt – Just a pinch brings out other flavours in sweet baked goods. It definitely does not make it taste salty at all. This is generally good practice for baking, a tip I’ve picked up over the years. You’ll notice my older cake recipes do not have salt in them.
How to make Cinnamon Apple Loaf
It’s very, very straight forward. It takes longer to chop the apples than to make the batter!
1. The Batter
Toss the apple pieces with cinnamon and sugar, and set aside while you make the batter. This will make the apple sweat slightly – we mix the juices into the batter – and infuse the apple with a bit of sweetness and cinnamon flavour.
Dry – Whisk the Dry ingredients in a bowl.
Wet – Whisk the Wet ingredients in a separate bowl. (PS. I know sugar isn’t “wet” but in the baking world it is considered a wet ingredient and actually it behaves like a wet ingredient when mixed with liquids).
Combine wet and dry – Pour the Wet ingredients into the Dry ingredients bowl then mix until combined.
Stir through the apple (including all juices in the bowl) and walnuts, if using.
Scrape the batter into a prepared loaf pan and level the surface.
Lining the loaf pan – I just use a single sheet of paper to line the base and long sides, with plenty of paper overhang. There’s no need to line the short end – this cake is not that sticky. Also the overhang will be used to lift the cake out because we do not want to turn it out upside down as it will mess up the top.)
Batter level – The batter should be around 1.7cm / 2/3″ below the rim of the loaf pan. No more else it may overflow.
Apple slices – Decorate the surface using the apple slices in any way you wish. I fan them out slightly, as pictured, and use 3/4 of an apple.
Sprinkle the surface with the Demerara sugar mixed with (more!) cinnamon powder.
This loaf takes 1 hour 25 minutes to bake: Partially uncovered, to caramelise the surface nicely, then covered to finish cooking it through.
1 hour uncovered – Bake the loaf uncovered for 1 hour at 200°C / 390°F (180°C fan). This is slightly higher than the usual 180°C/350°F (160°C fan). This lower temperature not only took an extra 20 minutes to cook but the loaf didn’t rise as well. 200°C for the win!
FIRST CHECK at 45 minutes to ensure the apple slices are not burning. If they are, cover with foil early.
25 minutes covered – Remove the loaf from the oven and loosely cover with foil. Then bake for a further 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool 1 hour – Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then use the paper overhang to lift the loaf out on to a rack to cool for a further 1 hour before slicing. I know it’s super-tempting but don’t slice and eat it straight away because even though it is fully cooked, it will paradoxically taste a little raw. You really need to rest any baked good (breads included) to let the inside finish cooking and “dry out” a bit. The larger it is, the longer you need to rest it. In this case, because of the extra moisture from the apple, it needs a good 1 hour. At the very least, 30 minutes!
Cutting and serving
It will not shock regular readers to hear that I even have a view on something as simple as slicing a loaf!!
For me, the perfect width of a slice is between 2 – 2.2 cm (that’s 0.78 – 0.87 inches).
Thicker = cake-to-butter ratio is out.
Thinner = stingy plus too fragile. If it breaks when slices fall like dominos as you cut the loaf up, it means the slices are too thin.
Please don’t judge me! Or – do. I don’t mind. Because I’ll be the one eating the perfect slice of Apple Bread!
Eat it slightly warm and plain, like cake. Or lightly toast it in the oven or in your toaster then slather with butter. Leftovers will keep for days and days (around 5) and freezes perfectly. So even if it’s just you, there’s no excuse not to make this! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Cinnamon Apple Bread
Yogurt and oil make the crumb beautifully moist so it will stay fresh for days. I like to add walnuts for soft crunch but it's entirely optional. The apple slice topping is also optional. So many options!
Want apple muffins instead? Here it is!
1 loaf pan , 21.5 x 11.5 x 7 cm / 4.5 x 8.5 x 2.75"
- 1 Granny Smith apple , quartered, cored, thinly sliced 3 mm / 1/8" thick (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar (or turbinado sugar, Note 2)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 cups diced Granny Smith apple , 1/2” cubes, skin on (approx 2 large apples) (Note 2)
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
Batter – Dry:
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder (Note 3)
- 1/4 tsp allspice (or mixed spice) (Note 3)
- 1 3/4 cups plain / all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda , sifted (Note 4)
- 1/4 tsp cooking / kosher salt
Batter – Wet:
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup yogurt , plain unsweetened (sub sour cream), at room temperature (Note 5)
- 2 eggs , at room temperature (Note 5)
- 1/2 cup canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup walnuts , toasted, roughly chopped into 1cm/1/3″ pieces (not too small) (Note 6)
Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C fan). Position shelf in the middle of the oven.
Loaf pan (Note 7): Use a 21.5 x 11.5 x 7 cm / 4.5 x 8.5 x 2.75" pan. Spray with canola oil then line the long side + base with a single piece of paper leaving some overhang (don’t worry about lining short sides).
Topping: Mix the Demerara sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cinnamon Apple: Mix Cinnamon Apple ingredients in a bowl. Set aside while you prepare the batter (the sugar will make the apple sweat = good thing!).
Batter: Whisk the Dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk Wet ingredients. Pour Wet mix into the Dry bowl, whisk just until smooth. Stir in apples (including all juices) and walnuts. Batter should be thick but dollop-able (not pourable in thin stream, nor thick like sticky bread dough). Scrape into loaf pan, smooth surface.
Topping: Take 1/4 of the apple slices, fan out (so they're overlapping) then arrange on top. Repeat in two more lots of 1/4 of an apple. (I find to cover the surface, I only use 3/4 of the apple.) Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Bake 60 minutes. Cover loosely with foil, bake for further 25 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out smooth.
Rest 15 minutes in the pan then use paper overhang to remove to a rack. Cool at least 1 hour on rack before slicing!
Serving – The bread is moist and flavoured enough to eat plain though nobody complains if it's lightly toasted and slathered with butter!
Apple varieties – This recipe should work fine with most apple varieties. Some apples will cook up softer than others. I like Granny Smith for the slight tartness and it holds its shape well when cooked. If using really sweet apples, you may want to reduce the brown sugar down to 1/2 cup.
Apple topping – I can only fit 3/4 of an apple’s worth of slices on top. If you want to squeeze all of it, go right ahead!
2. Demerara sugar – This is a coarse sugar with a hint of molasses flavour that creases jewel-like crust on the surface. Substitute with 2 tbsp brown sugar.
3. Spices – I like this combination of spices for my apple loaf but if you don’t have them, feel free to substitute with more cinnamon powder.
4. Baking soda (bi-carb) is basically baking powder on steroids with ~3x lifting power. I find a combination of the two works best for crumb texture and surface shape. If you don’t have it, substitute with an extra 2 teaspoons baking powder. The surface of the loaf may end up a little more level rather than attractively domed but the crumb will be similar.
Self-raising flour can be used instead of plain flour + baking powder + baking soda but it won’t rise quite as well. It does work though!
5. Room temperature – It’s best for the eggs and yogurt to be at room temperature as the batter will be quite stiff if they are fridge-cold. However this recipe is quite forgiving so it’s not the end of the world if they are fridge-cold (speaking from experience here!).
6. Toasted walnuts – Spread on a tray and bake for 8 minutes at 180°C/350°F (160°C fan), shaking the tray once.
7. Loaf pan – If yours is larger, that’s fine. It’s just that the loaf won’t end up as tall as you see pictured.
8. Leftovers – Stays fresh for 5 days. It’s best to keep in the fridge and serve warm (microwave, or oven/toaster to toast). Freezes 3 months.
9. Nutrition per serving, assuming 10 slices.
Love baking with apples?
Me too! See?
Life of Dozer
Oh my, oh my, Life of Dozer – or is that Dozer’s life? – is rather exciting these days as he accompanies me on the Sydney leg of the cookbook tour! Here he is at our very first public event hosted by Kinokuniya book store. It took place in a church in the city that is often hired out for events. As I was talking on stage, he just wandered around the room, sidling up to people for pats and cuddles. He was in his element!!!
And for those wondering, I am very pleased to report that he did not pee during the event!!!!
Another huge thank you to everyone who came. It was so wonderful to see your faces and get to meet so many of you!!
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