February DB Challenge: Healthier Apple & Pear Walnut Loaf

by Shumaila

Thank god for the Daring Bakers’ monthly challenges. Thanks to them I have been forced out of my no-blogging rut.

It has been more than a week since my last blog post. So what had been keeping me so busy?


Nothing of importance actually.

If you remember, I swore I won’t take any of my cooking pictures till I get my pending posts up (which obviously are still pending). And since I have not been taking pictures, I decided to take a break from blogging. It can be like a full time job sometimes- cooking, composing, photographing, cleaning up, post processing, writing, posting and then spreading the blog love. Blogging can be like a full time job (an unpaid full time job). Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it. It keeps me busy. It gets good food on the table. And it teaches me so much. And thanks to it, I have met some really, really talented people.

But sometimes, you need a break from your job no matter how much you love it. And I needed a break.

I thought I would get my pending posts up, but for four straight days I did not feel like opening my laptop. And that is unprecedented (I can’t live without my laptop- so not feeling like working on it was a very welcomed feeling). I really needed that break. But, now I am back! Thanks to the Daring Bakers’ :)!

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Quick bread is any bread that is quick to make because it doesn’t require kneading or rising time. That’s because the leavener in such a bread is usually baking powder or baking soda, which, when combined with moisture, starts the rising process immediately. In the case of double-acting baking powder, oven heat causes a second burst of rising power. Eggs can also be used to leaven quick breads. This genre includes most biscuits, muffins, popovers and a wide variety of sweet and savory loaf breads.

Lisa set out certain rules that we had to follow for this month’s challenge. We were supposed to make a a baked good that-

  • Used No yeast
  • Did not take more than 1.5 hours to prepare and bake through.
  • Was shaped either as loaves or muffins/popovers

Besides the above, we were free to choose any recipe and any flavor.

I had a few pears and apples in my pantry and thought I would make an apple and pear walnut loaf.

I am trying to give a healthier spin to my baked goods and thought that would be the daring part I do this month. Make a healthy version of a quick bread.

So instead of using only all purpose flour, I used a mixture of both all purpose and whole wheat (with a little wheat germ added to it). I also used no butter, but a combination of olive oil and applesauce. I also halved the sugar generally called for in such loaves, which made for a not too sweet bread, perfect for breakfast.

I did have some problem in the baking time and temperature. Initially I had the bread bake at 350 F, but when after 45 minutes, it was still not cooked in the middle, I increased the temperature to 400 F. I covered the top with aluminium foil and let it bake another 30 minutes. There are still a few tweaks I need to make to the recipe, but am posting it as is for now. I will update this page with the revised version of the recipe soon.

The loaf actually tasted great the next day and even better toasted. I would recommend waiting for a day before digging into it. Wrap the cooled bread in foil or plastic wrap; leave at room temperature overnight. You can also serve it grilled.

Notes for improvement/improvisations:

Although the loaf wasn’t bad (especially since its healthier than other breads), the recipe still needs some work. I will be updating the recipe soon with the revisions.

Since it took a long time to bake, maybe the liquid to dry ratio might be a little off. I think using 2 grated pears and 2 grated apples made the bread take longer to bake. Maybe the next time, I’ll chop the fruits, or use only 1 of each fruit.

This time I used a muffin pan as well because I thought the batter might overflow from the bread tin, but the next time I will spoon out the whole batter in the bread tin.

Audax posted this liquid to flour ratio on the DB forums (he always knows everything!)- the ratio by weight for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat. To fill a 9” x 5” (23cm x 13cm) loaf pan, you will need 240 grams of flour, 240 grams of liquid of any kind, 120 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 120 grams of fats. This ratio also works for making muffins. By volume you will need 1¾ cup flour, 1 cup liquid, 2 eggs, ½ cup fat (plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and about 1/2 cup of sugar plus additions). Will follow this ratio the next time I make this loaf.


I made this bread again, but this time I used only 1 apple and 1 pear, and instead of grating the apple and pear, I chopped the peeled apple and pear into small pieces. I preferred the bread this way. And it cooked perfectly in 65 minutes a 350 F. The recipe above has been modified for the changes I made.  I topped this loaf with some cream cheese frosting that I had leftover from another baking experiment, and absolutely loved how the slightly sweeter frosting complimented the not so sweet loaf.