Maple Huckleberry Loaf
The kitchen is a great place to spend time when autumn arrives. Cooler days often find me there baking. When the temperature drops it is nice to turn the oven on and find new ways to use the fall produce decorating my countertops.
I found this beautiful quick bread/coffee cake recipe at 101 Cookbooks. It has a wonderfully crumbly crust layer, full of crunchy nuts and the flavor of maple sugar. Here I used the rest of my huckleberries according to the recipe as posted. The only change I made for my first attempt was to use hazelnuts instead of pecans in the crumb for a wholly northwest take on this wholesome huckleberry creation. The huckleberries were gathered at nearby Mt. St. Helen’s. The hazelnuts are a product of the Pacific Northwest as well.
This recipe turned out to be fantastic, a really nice change of pace from my normal repertoire of fall quick breads. It is made with whole wheat pastry flour and real maple syrup. What really intrigued me and begged me to try the recipe ws the addition of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme. I would have never thought to include those herbs in a quick bread studded with fresh fruit but reading the recipe this earthy combination of ingredients struck me as an inspired synergy of fall flavors.
The outcome was even better than expected, a beautiful crumb topped loaf that disappeared quickly. The hint of savory herbs gives a subtle depth to the powerful top notes of rich maple sweetness and the tart wildness of fresh huckleberries. I will be making this again. In fact I already have, in several different harvest flavored variations.
Maple Huckleberry Loaf
adapted slightly from "Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake" at 101 Cookbooks
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
zest of one lemon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups fresh berries
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup maple sugar (or brown sugar)
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme and rosemary. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the maple syrup while beating. Continue mixing until well incorporated. Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla. Continue beating until well mixed.
Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until barely combined.
Fold in 1 cup of the huckleberries.
Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and set aside.
To prepare the crumb topping:
Combine the flour, sugar and thyme thoroughly in a medium bowl. Cut in the chunks of butter using a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles course crumbs. (Or place topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse 20 to 30 times, or until quite crumbly.) Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
Scatter 2/3 of the crumb topping over the batter in the loaf pan. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of huckleberries evenly across the topping, then cover with the remaining 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Press the topping down onto the batter lightly, using your fingertips.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 -55 minutes, or until golden on top and the loaf tests done using a toothpick or when it springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Remove to cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan and let the loaf rest on the wire rack until completely cooled.
Variations: I made several loaves in mini loaf pans. The pan size reduced the baking time needed only a little. I think mine took about 40 minutes to bake but pan sizes and materials vary so start checking sooner and bake until the loaf tests done.
If huckleberries are hard to find try using frozen or fresh berries as a substitution. Blueberries are the closest choice but what about cranberries?
Maple Apple Loaf
Omit the lemon zest. Reduce the amount of maple syrup to 1/4 cup and add 1/2 cup apple butter or appplesauce to the wet ingredients along with the egg. Use 1 1/3 cups diced peeled apple chunks in place of the huckleberries.
Maple Pumpkin Loaf
Omit the lemon zest and add 1 cup of mashed pumpkin or squash (I used canned pumpkin), to the wet ingredients along with the egg. You might also like to add 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.