Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Soggy disaster

I didn't have a good weekend, cooking-wise. First there was the simple loaf of bread that turned into a marathon effort; then of course the weirdly mushy Irish stew. But the real corker was the oaty apple loaf (p31).

It was Sunday evening. I'd finished my bowl of 'stew' and was putting together my lunch for Monday. At this point I realised I didn't have any baking to put in my lunchbox. I looked for something I could throw together quickly and settled on the loaf.

You don't see loaves much these days. They're not glamorous and aren't usually covered in piles of sugary icing, so they seldom appear in glossy cookbooks, and since you can't really buy them in a packet at the supermarket, they seem to have disappeared from the average Kiwi baking tin.

I like loaves. They're homey and filling, quick to make and usually pretty cheap. And I'm not alone - when I worked at Brumby's, the date loaf was one of our biggest sellers - despite the exorbitant price tag.

This particular loaf, on the other hand, was a total disaster. My hopes of getting it into the oven quickly were dashed by the necessity of first boiling up the apple, sultanas, spices, sugar and water and then letting it cool before mixing in the dry ingredients. It took forever to cool down, which was a nuisance, but certainly not the worst of my problems.

Even before I added the dry ingredients, I was doubtful that the mix would fit in the loaf tin. There seemed to be a lot of liquid compared to the amount of dry ingredients that went in. Once it was all mixed in, I tried to fit the very wet mixture in a standard-sized loaf tin as indicated in the recipe. There was WAY too much - I filled up two smaller loaf tins as well and got them all in the oven.

I wasn't sure how long the smaller loaves would take to cook, so I kept checking them. Even after the 45-minute cooking time for the full-sized loaf was over, the small ones weren't cooked and the larger one was nowhere near done.

In the end, all the loaves were cooked for well over an hour. I finally took them out when the tops were starting to burn, and a toothpick inserted into a loaf came out looking clean, if a little moist. My thinking was that an apple loaf should probably be quite moist. I kept them in the tins for ten minutes before turning them out onto a rack. Or trying to..

Two of the loaves came out whole, but soggy-looking. Another fell to pieces and showed me that the middle was nothing like cooked. I piled them back into their tins and bunged them back in the oven. Not wanting either to burn the loaves or hover over them when I had other things to do, I got the oven up to temp and then turned it off, leaving the loaves in the slowly cooling oven.

To no avail. Even half an hour later when I took them out of the (still quite hot) oven, there was absolutely no improvement. The loaves were an absolute write-off: not even remotely edible. They ended up in the green waste bin. As far as I can see, there's just way too much liquid in the recipe. I've checked over and over again, and there's nothing in the recipe I missed. The apples I used were quite large, but not huge. I suspect that if I tried this recipe with only one apple it would come out fine.

So much for my 'something easy to throw together' plan. Ironically, after all that wasted effort, I didn't even need any baking in my lunchbox, since a client turned up on Monday with a morning tea shout for us. Ah well: at least I didn't go hungry!


  1. Banana cake girl again ;) if you want a loaf, add some chopped walnuts to the banana cake batter and stick it in a loaf tin to bake. The top will rise and break and be crunchy, but it's delicious! Ok enough banana cake preachin'...

  2. Thanks for the tip, banana cake girl! ;)


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