I’m a huge Tolkein fan. I’ve always identified most with the hobbits, and specifically with Rosie Cotton – the girl Samwise Gamgee came home too. Of all those who were cursed to foray forth on that eventful journey, he is the one with the happiest ending. So it tickles me to realize that this bread is Hobbit worthy. And it is! It’s packed full of complexity, but on the surface it’s unassuming, with a touch of crunchiness and sweetness and the bite of ginger at the end. I’d asked for help in naming it, and suggestions of SHARB (Spiced Honey Apple Rum Bread) were good, as were the variations on pirate… but in the end, the rum is a muted note in the symphony of flavors here. It was the texture, and sheer mass, of the bread, that convinced me it was ideal for second breakfast, when you need something warm and buttery in your belly to keep you going until lunch, or brunch, or elevenses, or tea, or…
The initial bread recipe is from my Fanny Farmer cookbook, Pain d’Epice, and the unique feature of this bread is the texture. It’s something between a quick bread, and a yeast bread, with the moist chewiness of well-activated gluten. It’s not as sweet (or crumbly) as a zucchini or banana bread, both of which can verge into ‘cake.’ This batter takes longer, but it’s worth the wait, and if you have a stand mixer you’re not really doing any of the work for it!
Also, and possibly most important to both the bread, and hobbitiness of it, this is sweetened with honey alone. A half cup of golden ambrosia, to be exact, plus a tablespoonful to glaze the top during baking. I finally got to feature the Killer Bees honey Peter Grant sent me some time ago, and I was very excited about that (I love their logo, and I’m very fond of supporting beekeepers). You can find their sampler pack here, and you really must get the politically incorrect version. Hobbits would do nothing less than poke the establishment and laugh when it jumped back in alarm. (Cedar’s note: I like the honey, I don’t know these people from Adam, and am certainly not being compensated for my words. Just… make the bread and enjoy the honey?)
Second Breakfast Bread
In a stand mixer (you could do it by hand. Read the recipe to learn why you don’t want to) bowl place:
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c rye flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
Add to the dry goods:
- 1 egg
- 1/2 c honey
- 2 grated apples (I like Granny Smith for added tartness)
- 3/4 c milk
- 1 tbsp spiced rum
Preheat oven to 350 deg, and grease a large (9″x5″) loaf pan.
Mix the batter on med-low for 20+ minutes. Yes, you heard me right, I didn’t typo. We’re going to activate the heck out of the gluten here. The fantastic texture of this bread needs you to do this for 20-30 minutes before baking.
Pour the batter into a greased pan and lightly sprinkle sliced almonds on top of it.
Bake for 35 min. Brush the almonds with warmed, runny honey. Put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until a wooden skewer (or toothpick, or what-have-you) comes out clean from the center. Allow to cool in pan for a couple of minutes, then turn out onto the rack. Fend off family until cooled to the point of safety. Slice while still warm and serve with a schmear of butter and maybe more honey if you have that sweet a tooth.
The end result is dense, chewy in a good way, mildly sweet, complex nuttiness with a hint of the rum and apple and spice… The First Reader initially thought it would need honey on a slice, then changed his mind when he’d tried it just with butter. It’s perfect food, and I’d put it up against Lembas for travel food, actually. I won’t mention that the spice mixture in this bread is the we-love-to-hate-it infamous pumpkin spice, shall I?