Velem, autumn and apple bread

“Would you come to Velem with me?”- I ask Áron at the beginning of September. This needs a short explanation for non-Hungarians because this question is a joke with the words. Velem, beside of the fact that it is the name of a village in Western Hungary, means also “with me”, so if you replace Velem with the Hungarian meaning, you can understand, why Áron laughed when I proposed to him to run away for a weekend. My idea was to escape from our responsibilities, house renovation and to-do-lists for a couple of nights. I was dreaming about long walks in the forest, autumn colours, the noise of dead fallen leaves and Beeper running around who fits so well with her colours into an autumn background. I get a little bit disappointed when I realise that we can first book at the beginning of November when I hardly have a chance for nice colours, rather rain and naked trees. Doesn’t matter, I cheer up myself thinking about wearing woollen socks knitted by my grandmother, sitting in front of the tile stove and having a hot tea in the wooden cottage what we found in Velem.
Nature has a nice surprise for me. Due to the mild weather my dream comes true with colourful, fluttering leaves and happy, running Beeper. Although there is a television in the bedroom it remains switched off during our stay. We leave our laptops at home, we have books instead, one written by István Fekete for Áron, and of course a cookbook for me, this time from Sweden, with beautiful, inspiring photos. We return to the basics: we eat, sleep and walk in the forest. We drink Ági’s (my friend’s) strawberry-mint tea while we are watching the flaming logs in the tile stove.
Feeling the sense of home for two days. It is hard to close the entrance door at the end of the weekend but we know the moment will soon come when we open ours again.
After we return I decide to finalise the apple bread recipe for you which I have started several weeks ago. The idea came from a courgette bread recipe that I learnt in Málaga, but I made so many changes that it doesn’t resembles the original one at all. I know I want to replace courgette by the apples from our orchard but this is only the beginning. I reduce the amount of sugar and replace part of the flour with ground almond. My family likes the first version but I am not completely satisfied. I want to use our walnuts instead of almonds, partly ground and partly roughly chopped so it pops up in every slice. The second loaf is ready, Áron says it tastes good, but I think it is too dense. I reduce the amount of butter, use cane sugar and caster sugar half and half, and add a hint of ground clove to the dough. While I am watching the cake in the oven rising nicely I already know that it will be the right one. It is soft and light, you can taste the sour apples, the crunchy walnuts and there is something more, secretly hidden, that maybe only I notice: the taste of home.

After we return I decide to finis the apple bread recipe for you which I have started several weeks ago. The idea came from a courgette bread recipe that I learnt in Málaga, but I made so many changes that it doesn’t resembles the original one at all. I know I want to replace courgette by the apples from our orchard but this is only the beginning. I reduce the amount of sugar and replace part of the flour with ground almond. My family likes the first version but I am not completely satisfied. I want to use our walnuts instead of almonds, partly ground and partly roughly chopped so it pops up in every slice. The second loaf is ready, Áron says it tastes good, but I think it is too dense. I reduce the amount of butter, use cane sugar and caster sugar half and half, and add a hint of ground clove to the dough. While I am watching the cake in the oven rising nicely I already know that it will be the right one. It is soft and light, you can taste the sour apples, the crunchy walnuts and there is something more, secretly hidden, that maybe only I notice: the taste of home.

Apple bread

Ingredients:
50 g cane sugar
50 g caster sugar
115 g butter at room temperature
3 eggs
150 g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground clove
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 g ground walnuts
50 g walnuts, roughly chopped
160 g pureed apple
a little bit of butter and flour for greasing and flouring the cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180. With a pastry brush, butter a saddle of venison baking pan or loaf pan and dust with flour. Shake out the excess. Beat the sugars with the butter then add the eggs. Mix flour, cinnamon, clove, salt, ground walnut and baking powder and gradually add to the egg mixture. Finally fold in the pureed apple and the chopped walnuts. Pour the dough into the baking pan and bake in 45 minutes, or until the the cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake for about 5 minutes in the pan then carefully turn it out onto a cooling rack.

apple bread from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen www.tasteofmemories.com apple bread from the Taste of Memories Hungarian country kitchen www.tasteofmemories.com

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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