Monday, November 9, 2009

He Hunts, I Bake

(SPOILER ALERT: Dear Jenny and Clint, since you reprimanded me at church yesterday for not blogging ... here it is! However, this could spoil the surprise of your Tuesday night dinner.)

As many of you know, duck season opens this coming weekend in Louisiana and the following weekend in Arkansas. While I am no duck slayer myself, my boyfriend is, which means he'll be heading out of town off and on over the next few months. Typically he's only gone Friday nights so he can be back here for church Sunday morning.

For me, hunting season adds up to one thing: Baking. Lots of baking. It's strange that I never feel the urge to bake until this time of year. I bake, and I don't even eat my sweet creations (If there's something you've been craving, let me know. I'll make it. Deliveries available to Shreveport and Bossier residents only.)

So, this past weekend Ty was in Arkansas preparing the camp, and I was at home -- you guessed it -- baking. However, it wasn't unnecessary baking. I had someone in mind.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jenny unexpectedly lost her mother. It's been a heartbreaking time for her, but I've been amazed by her strength. To help her family out during this difficult time, our church and some of Jenny's other friends teamed together to deliver meals to her house for weeks to come. Life is hard enough for Jenny right now, does she really need to be worrying about what's for dinner? So, Tuesday night is my night. I'm really excited for multiple reasons. First, I love to cook for friends, and secondly, I feel like in some small way I'm making the day a little easier for a family I care about.

With it being duck season and all, of course baked goods entered the equation and Saturday night was spent baking Praline-Apple Bread. It should be good for breakfast or a quick, easy snack, and I thought you may want the recipe also. The recipe yields one loaf.

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 (8 oz.) container of sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring 4 minutes.

2. Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.

3. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack.

5. Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).

(Note: to freeze, cool bread completely; wrap in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.)