This is my favorite quick bread recipe I’ve ever made. I didn’t want to say it for the risk of you thinking that I say that about all my recipes and that it therefore doesn’t mean anything, but then I went ahead and said it anyways. Because it’s true! This is the most snackable, delectably sweet with a hint of citrus, moist-yet-crunchy, cake-like bread that I’ve made to date, and I pretty much ate the whole loaf by myself. The countdown to Thanksgiving is on, and you know things are about to get crazy, so let’s all slow down for a few minutes, throw the ingredients for this bread together, and then savor a warm slice fresh from the oven. And did I mention it has whole wheat flour? Let’s make that two slices.
I’ve been seeing recipes with cardamom pop up all over the blogosphere lately, and realized that I’ve never baked with it. I picked some up a few weeks ago and gave it the sniff/taste test, and was surprised by how bright and almost sour it is. I thought it would be the perfect counterbalance to a boatload of sweet apples roasted in the oven. After having a slice of the finished product, I can say that I am hooked on the je ne sais quois that the cardamom gives to sweet breads and cakes. You almost can’t place the flavor, but you know that it brings a bright, tart, citrus flavor that makes the apples and brown sugar seem that much sweeter. I’ll be reaching for it again soon.
And since I was playing with contrasts already, I went ahead and made a simple streusel topping with toasted almonds, brown sugar, and a little bit more cardamom to add some crunch to this moist bread and make sure the cardamom flavor popped. And then since I wanted to make sure that it looked as good as it tasted, I had to go and mix a little milk into some powdered sugar to make a drizzle glaze. The streusel and the glaze are completely optional (but highly recommended).
To make the batter, cream the butter until it’s light and fluffy. I used a stand mixer, but you could also use a hand mixer. Add in the sugars and beat the mixture until everything is fluffy again, then add in the egg and vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine. By using soft rather than melted butter, the bread will be more like a cake than a dense loaf.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add half of this to the mixer and stir it on low speed to combine, then add the sour cream, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Finally add the chopped apples and mix them in by hand. Make sure you don’t overmix, so the bread is light and not chewy. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
To make the streusel, combine all of the ingredients except the butter in a small bowl. Chop the butter into small pieces, then mix it into the other ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle this over the batter, then bake at 350°F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Once the loaf is out of the oven, let it cool for at least five minutes in the pan, then turn it out and place it on a cooling rack. If you’re going to glaze it, drizzle the glaze over the bread when it’s relatively cool so that it doesn’t all melt into the bread. Slice and serve!
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 small apples, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk (any kind)
- Butter a loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a stand mixer or in a large bowl and with a hand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and brown sugar, and beat for another minute. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat to combine.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and beat to combine, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the chopped apples and stir until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth with a spatula.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the streusel ingredients except the butter. Add the butter and stir with a fork until it’s crumbly. Pour this over the batter as evenly as possible.
- Bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- To make the glaze, stir the milk into the powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add a little more milk. Drizzle the glaze over the bread in whatever pattern you like.