Halloween decorations and the chill of fall in the air got me thinking about caramel apples.
Neither of the apple cider breads that I had made were particularly sweet, which was the goal. But once I got the idea of caramel apples in my head, I wanted to marry that sweet flavor with the tart apples. My favorite caramel apples are the ones with nuts on the outside. So that was the flavor profile I was looking for.
Like the apple cider bread, I used grated apples and apple cider in the dough, but I wanted that mixture of apples, sweet caramel, and nuts to shine through, just like that first bite of a caramel apple leads to pure apple. To accomplish that, I made a swirled bread with dulce de leche, diced apples, and chopped peanuts in the sweet swirl.
Caramel Apple Swirl Loaf
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons instant yeast
13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) bread flour, divided, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 Jonathan apples, about 1/4 pound each
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 of a 13.4 ounce can of dulce de leche
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
Butter, for top of loaf, about 1 tablespoon
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the apple cider and instant yeast. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add about 9 ounces (2 cups) of the flour and stir to combine. You can eyeball about 2/3 of the total amount if you've pre-measured it all. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.
Add the remaining bread flour (4 1/2 ounces or 1 cup), sugar, and salt. Knead until the dough starts to become elastic.
Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the oil is completely incorporated.
Form the dough into a ball, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Get a 9x5 loaf pan ready, If you want a bit of extra insurance that you loaf will leave the pan easily, spray it with baking spray or use a sheet of parchment folded to fit the bottom and up the long sides.
Put the dulce de leche into a small nonstick pan and heat slowly on medium-low heat. Add the peanuts to the pan. As the caramel begins to melt, peel the apple, core it, cut into a 1/4-inch dice, and mix it into the caramel quickly so that it doesn't have a chance to brown. Cook on low for another minute, then turn off the heat and set aside until you're ready to use it. If it's too stiff to spread when you are ready for it, you can rewarm it gently, but you don't want it to be hot when it meets the bread.
Flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead it briefly, then form it into a rough square, then roll it out to a rectangle approximately 9x16 inches. Spread the caramel mixture onto the dough leaving about 1/2 uncovered on the long sides, and about 2 inches uncovered on one of the short sides.
Roll up the dough, jellyroll style, tucking in the sides as you go and ending at the short end that was left uncovered. Seal the seam and the ends, and place in the prepared loaf pan. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
Uncover the loaf, slash as desired and bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, about 45 minutes. For a soft brown crust, take the loaf out of the oven and spread the butter over the top of the loaf about 5 minutes before it is done. Return the loaf to the oven and bake the final five minutes.
Cool the loaf for five minutes in the pan, then turn it out and let it cool completely before slicing.
Mmmmm.... sliced bread...
This was published on Serious Eats and has been submitted to Yeastspotting.