Why is it that summer slips away way too fast? Every year it’s the same thing… not having enjoyed enough time doing all the things I looked forward to doing.
When the first leaves began to turn, I could think of no rituals to hold off the changing of seasons here in northern Michigan. And as temperatures cooled off requiring long pants and jackets, there isn’t much left for a Michigander to do other than embrace it.
Luckily, local retailers offer loads of options in which to find ways to enjoy fall. While waiting in line at the local grocery store to purchase the week’s necessities, the colorful magazines lining both sides of the aisle offered unlimited suggestions. It was all a matter of choosing one.
Crafts, reading, puzzles, baking, decorating, you name it, it was there. I could only imagine what other suggestions they had in the magazine aisle, but as it was the Fall Baking magazine leapt off the rack and into my cart with the promise of comfort and contentment in the cold weeks ahead.
Flipping through pages of beautifully displayed fall desserts beginning with everything apple, followed by pears, and then pumpkin as the key ingredients… I couldn’t get past the Apple Dumpling Pull Apart Bread that seemed to speak to my soul.
After a second trip to the store to purchase more ingredients, I made plans to bake away my woes of summer’s passing and stoke the flames for a cozy fall as soon as possible.
But before I could bake… the house had to look the part. It was time to put away summer and unpack fall.
Neatly stacking the lawn chairs, cushions, and the summer umbrellas in the shed offered a time to clean up and organize the mess from those carefree, summer days. Like the change in seasons, I suppose the change in mindset is also of benefit to keep a person both healthy and happy.
Finishing the first portion of the annual summer clean-up, I couldn’t wait to get the fall decorations out next. Floral wreaths, garland, and silk flowers adorned the house achieving just the right atmosphere for baking the first of this season’s delights.
It was time to start baking.
The instructions stated the recipe would take 45 minutes of prep time plus time for the bread to rise, and 1-1/2 hours of bake time. Having 3 hours of time available to create this ooey-gooey, fall delight, I would surely have this recipe knocked out by lunch at the latest. Or so I thought…
Cooking the apples first, the smell of cinnamon baked apples filtered throughout every room of the house. After the apples were scooped out, the remaining juices would take forever to reduce down.
As I let the sauce simmer to thicken, I tackled the sweetbread portion of the recipe only to realize I didn’t have any yeast, or whole milk. Putting everything on hold, I ran down to the market for more baking supplies and found some outdoor fall decorations too - pumpkins and mums!
Getting back home, it was hard to concentrate on the cooking again when my train of thought got derailed with the outdoor décor, but I managed to get back to it mixing the dough for the sweetbread and leaving it rise for 45 minutes as the apple cider sauce finally thickened enough to drizzle over the cooked apples.
Taking a break as the bread did its thing, it wasn’t long before I was back in the kitchen dirtying even MORE dishes in attempts to create this fragrant fall fodder.
By the time I punched down the dough into yet another rectangular dish to cover evenly with apple filling, it was already an hour past the lunchtime deadline. Slicing through the apple laden dough to make 3”x 3” squares to stack one on top of another and arrange within a loaf pan that ended up being a tad too short, I crammed the last slab in as best I could and left the bread to rise again as the oven warmed up for baking.
Tick tock, tick tock, the clock never stops! As the minutes slipped away it was my aching feet and protesting back telling me I had been in the kitchen way too long. But damnit, I had invested so much time and effort… There was no turning back now! I had to see this through.
Placing a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch all the apple pieces that would surely squirt out of the pan as the bread continued to grow taller was a very good idea not mentioned in the recipe. And as the delightful, browned creation finally reached its full baking time and began cooling on the kitchen stove, I continued on with the arduous task of making the apple cider caramel sauce by reducing 4 cups of cider mixed with brown sugar down to 1 cup.
What was supposed to take 25 minutes took an hour and by the time it was fully reduced, my husband and I had already nibbled off one end of the bread not wishing to wait any longer to taste it.
I should have also waited to drizzle the caramel sauce, and cream cheese frosting on after they both set up a little, but again… I was so tired of making this recipe that I threw it on and hoped for the best.
Now that it’s done, I wonder if it was really worth all the effort. Although it’s a delicious recipe, I thought it would taste like it had taken me all day to make it... FANTASTIC. It's good, but I doubt I will ever make this one again because it took so long.
At least I tried it, and can move on to another comfy-cozy fall recipe next week. Perhaps one that’s a bit easier to make!
From the tried and true to the nifty and new… What fall recipes are you planning on whipping up this season?
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