My family came up to visit this week and we wanted to show them around the area, so we did a little sight-seeing. Just a little drive up the road is Homestead Orchards. They used to be a dairy farm but the owners switched over to apples a few years back and now the son runs the farm. They offer pick-your-own apples, as well as strawberries and fresh corn. The strawberries help them out during the beginning of the summer when the apples aren’t quite ready, helps them in the pocketbook too. They even bake apple goods on-site, so you can pick up a fresh apple pie or apple blondie hot from the oven, if you choose.
When we arrived there were three types of apples ripe for picking. Apples ripen earlier or later during the season depending on the type. When we went there were galas, gingergold, and jonamac apples ready to be picked. They recommend you bring your own bags so it’s easier on the environment too.
When you arrive you can see rows of apple trees laden with ripening fruit. The ones which are ready are clearly marked and you’re welcome to taste while you pick. Jonamac is a combination of a Jonathon and a MacIntosh apple and is a perfect baking apple and great for applesauce and apple butter. We spent about half an hour going through the trees and finding the ones we liked.
After you go back to the barn area, your apples are weighed and you pay a very reasonable price per pound. Of course we picked up an apple blondie to go too, since the smell of fresh baking was wafting through the air. At this time of year who could resist. Talk about farm to table!
A while ago, I picked up some steel cut oats thinking that they were similar to large flake. Boy was I wrong. While the oats are delicious, I hadn’t realized how much more prep would be needed for the steel cut variety. I foolishly picked up the large bag and we’re still have about half a bag left. Instead of always trying to use it up making breakfast, I searched for another way to use these wonderfully filling grains. What did I find? Honey oat loaf. Since we have the fresh apples, why not combine the two?
This recipe requires a little prep as you have to soak the oats for a couple of hours before everything else is mixed together. You could even do it overnight and leave them in the fridge if you like, but you really only need to soak them for a couple of hours.
After the oats have softened, place in large mixing bowl. Preheat your oven to 350F. Mix in your melted butter and honey while on the mixer is on low. Add the eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Blend the dry mix with a whisk until well combined. While the mixer in on low, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Then add 1/2 of the milk, one more third of dry, the last of the milk, and finally, the last of the dry. You should always end mixing with the dry ingredients. That way you can tell if your mix is too wet or dry and you can adjust accordingly. Then fold in the diced apples. Place even amounts into two greased 8×5 pans and bake for 70 minutes. The dough is very dense so it needs the longer bake time.
Once removed from the oven, immediately remove from the pans and let cool on the rack. The steel cut oats give the loaf a nice chewy texture, interspersed with the warming flavour of apple and cinnamon.