I first tried Rhona’s Creamy Apple Almond Crunch Bread about 25 years ago. We had just moved from our 3 year assignment in Germany and were settling into our new home on the Naval Base in Rhode Island. It was a difficult move in the sense that the years we spent in Germany were amazing. We left lots of friends and memories there. Also, this assignment was only a year long, so I knew I would not really have a lot time to make close friends or take in all the sights that I was hoping too. Well, it took only a few weeks for that thought to be proven wrong. I immediately made friends with some incredible woman, thanks mostly to my son Paul who combed the neighborhood looking for friends (he had no qualms about knocking on our neighbors’ door asking if they had boys that would like to play). He was only 4 at the time, so life meant finding other kids with a Big Wheel, some sporting equipment and maybe even a kiddy pool. You know, the simple things. Because of his search, I became friends with two women who I hold close to my heart to this day. The kind of friends that you connect with instantly, who have your same sense of humor and who take life with a grain of salt. One of those woman, you guessed it, is Rhona. A smart and fun woman, born and raised in England, who helped me to quickly get out of my post-Germany slump!
Rhona, along with many of the spouses in our little housing community, quickly bonded. All of our husbands were in a one year leadership course and were busy most of the time with papers, presentations and all of their classes. Darn! What that meant is that we all had to make the most of our days getting to know one another over coffee, exploring the beautiful area and helping our kids to have the best time they could in the one short year. That is where this recipe for Rhona’s Creamy Apple Almond Crunch Bread was discovered.
Another quick story about this assignment. We were stationed for the year on a Naval Base in Newport, Rhode Island. We had been stationed only on Air Force bases up to this point. Now, the facilities were all basically the same. What was different though, were all the Navy spouses I met that year. When I say, different, I mean in the best way possible. These women were amazing! They knew the art of getting a house set up quickly. Most of them had pictures hung, dishes put away, living rooms decorated, garden planted, in just 2 short weeks! Wow! I pretty much left the pictures leaning in rows against the wall, and at the 6 month point, realized I would be packing them up soon, so what was the point? Not entirely true, but I certainly was not the Move-In Ninja that my Navy Wife Sisters were. I guess their motto was to have the house “Guest Ready” for the first coffee get together or dinner with the neighbors. Me on the other hand, always volunteered to bring the food. Or even better, if I had my friends over, I had coffee brewing, something baked, and my laundry ready to be folded, just in case anyone was bored and wanted to help me out!
I can’t remember when Rhona first made this bread, but what I do know is, that I fell in love with it and immediately asked her for the recipe. I still have the original recipe card in my file. Seeing her handwriting really brings back memories of our fun times together and the beautiful friendship we established.
It probably was one of our brunches or coffee get-togethers that she brought it to. What I love about this recipe is that it starts with a quick bread mix. Then with a layer of cream cheese, toasty almonds and apples, you take the bread over the top! By finishing it with a glaze and more almonds for extra crunch, you have an unforgettable bread perfect for any fancy brunch or quiet get-together with friends and family.
It is memorable for me because when I make it, I think of Rhona sitting down to a proper cup of English tea with a slice of her Creamy Apple Almond Crunch Bread. So, take the time to savor the days or years you have with friends. Share your recipes, cook together, laugh together, never forget that they are etched in your heart. On Mother’s Day, I dedicate this recipe to all my military friends who helped me in all of our assignments…those that taught me to set up my house quickly, to rely on your friends in a pinch, to spend time together as often as possible and to never forget how to have fun in the process! I am a better person because of each and every one of you! Happy Mother’s Day and Military Spouse Appreciation Month from your friend at the Memorable Kitchen!
- 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup chopped, peeled apple
- 1 package Pillsbury Apple Cinnamon or Cranberry Quick Bread Mix
- ¾ cup water
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup chopped, peeled apple
- ¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)
- Apple Jelly
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix together by hand or with a mixer, cream cheese, sugar, and egg. Mix until smooth. Fold in ½ cup of chopped apple. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine quick bread mix, water, oil, 1 egg and almond extract. Stir by hand until moistened. Fold in the other ½ cup of chopped apples.
- Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Carefully spoon the cream cheese mixture over batter. Spoon remaining batter on top of filling.
- Sprinkle with almonds, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees, 70-85 minutes for an 8 x 4 pan and 65-75 minutes for a 9 x 5 pan.
- Remove from pan. Let cool completely. Melt apple jelly in a sauce pan. Brush over bread. Store in the refrigerator.
- Adapted from a recipe from Rhona Vantine