Every year when spring comes around, I find myself suddenly coming back to life after months of a dark, dreary existence that’s gone on so long, I’ve forgotten it’s possible to feel different. All at once I’m able to float outdoors, light and unencumbered by the heavy, hateful coat that’s been my constant companion as long as I can remember. The world is fresh and new, I am fresh and new and an unsuspected life force appears, motivating me to get out of bed, do things and make plans.
It’s all the more cruel when nature realizes it launched spring too early and takes it back for a couple more weeks. That happened recently – after a glorious, wonderful last week of March, during which I felt like a different person, cold weather and colorless skies returned for days and days and days, dousing my inner light.
Clearly, the sun and warmish weather play an enormous role in my well-being. I’m kind of like a solar-powered calculator, malfunctioning or just shutting down when there isn’t enough sunlight. Does this mean I should move to Ecuador? Probably.
Anyway, it was during the bitterness of this time-between-springs here in Paris, as my heart stopped throbbing to the pulse of flowers and honeybees and began muttering existential complaints, that I felt the need for a comfort food of some kind. Especially for breakfast, waking up to another cold day and definitely needing some crunchy, apple-y courage to face it. Toast naturally came to mind, as did apple pie. But you can’t have both. Or can you?
Introducing apple pie toast: a very easy apple pie, or a very fancy kind of toast, depending on your point of view. You can whip it up fairly quickly, cooking the apples while your coffee is brewing, and the results are well worth it. There’s also lots of room for variation and different flavor combinations depending on the spreads you use.
Happily, the weather has turned nice again (for good this time, let’s hope), but I’m glad to have come up with this chilly-season comfort breakfast while awaiting spring’s return.
Apple pie toast
Makes enough for 2 to 3 pieces of toast
- 1 apple (I prefer a green, tart kind like Granny Smith)
- Juice from half a lemon
- 3 teaspoons sugar, white or unrefined cane, or more to taste
- Small pinch salt
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground ginger
- 2 or 3 pieces of sliced bread
- Nut butter (white almond, cashew or other)
- Optional garnish: raisins, sliced strawberries etc.
Chop your apple up into smallish cubes. If it’s organic, you can leave the skin on.
Place in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Squeeze the juice of about half a lemon over the diced apple and stir to incorporate. If the apple seems like it’s going to stick to the pan, add a small amount (a few tablespoons) of water.
As the apple cooks, add the sugar and stir it in (I used rapadura). The sugar will caramelize a bit, so be sure to keep stirring occasionally so nothing burns.
Add a few shakes each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. If you like, add other seasonings such as ground cloves (be careful: a little goes a long way) or tonka bean.
Take the apple off the heat once it reaches the level of done-ness that you like. For me, that’s somewhere between crisp (raw) and the texture of apples inside a traditional apple pie baked in an oven with a crust on top.
Now toast your bread. I’m still using the trusty camping toaster you first saw in my curry “chicken” salad post.
Spread some nut butter on your toast. Here, I’ve used white almond butter (which is a bit runny), but you could opt for cashew butter or something with a more noticeable flavor like hazelnut butter, speculoos spread, chocolate-hazelnut spread or even peanut butter (?). Alternatively, plain or vanilla yogurt or cream cheese would work too. If your spread has a lot of sugar in it, consider adding less sugar when cooking your apple.
Now place the cooked apple evenly over the toast, and serve. Optional garnish: I used dried strawberry, but man, are they expensive! I recommend fresh strawberry instead, or maybe raisins or dried cranberries. Consider a sprinkling of gomasio too.
Apple pie toast makes for a lovely breakfast, together with coffee or tea. Keep it in mind if you want something to amaze and delight your next overnight guest!
(Also yummy in bed if your place has circa-1912 single-paned windows and is just too drafty.)
If you try this, let me know in the comments what your favorite spread to use is!