Sunday, September 19, 2010

Apple Cider Bread

Facebook made me do it.

Okay, not really Facebook, but some of my Facebook friends started talking about some kind of bread that they thought sounded good, and the next thing you know I was dragged into the conversation with the suggestion that I should make this bread and publish the recipe.

Well, fine, I'm up for a challenge. And this was really a challenge because I was trying to replicate a bread that I had never tasted. And some of the people who were asking about the bread had never tasted it either.

The bread in question is sold by Wegmans and the major ingredients are: Enriched Flour, Apple Cider, Apples, and Golden Raisins. Minor ingredients (2% or less) are: Apple Juice Concentrate, Yeast, Rye Flour, Salt, Cinnamon, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Silicon Dioxide, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, and Preservatives.

And this is a photo of a slice that someone sent to me:

In my world, raisins are always optional, so my ingredient list for my first effort includes bread flour, apple cider, apples, boiled cider, yeast, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.

I think the easiest way to deal with apples for a recipe like this is to cut them in half, core with a melon baller, then cut the halves in half and peel those quarters. But do it any way you like.

This was Version 1 of the recipe. (There was a second version that was less than wonderful and a third version in another post. Not that I disliked this version, but it has a lot of potential for different tastes. In subsequent versions, the apple pieces were smaller, with even more apple flavor to the dough.

This also spawned a Caramel Apple Bread that was sweeter than either of the two apple breads.

As far as the cinnamon, it's very subtle. I think I might add just a touch more in a different version.

Needless to say, I have no idea how close this is to the target. All I know is that it's almost gone already, so it must be good.

Apple Cider Bread

1 cup apple cider
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons butter
2 Granny Smith apples
12 3/8 ounces (2 3/4 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon boiled cider
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the apple cider and yeast.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a skillet. Peel, core and quarter the apples, then cut it quarter into eight chunks. Toss the apples into the skillet and cook them for a few minutes. You don't want them fully cooked, but cooking the outside stops the oxidation that turns apples that unappealing brown.

By this time, the yeast should have dissolves and it should have begun foaming a bit. Add 2 cups of the bread flour and mix. It will be rough and shaggy. That's fine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for one hour.

When the apples are lightly cooked on all sides, remove them from the pan and set aside to cool trying to keep as much of the liquid behind in the pan. Save that liquid; it will be going into the dough.

In an hour, the dough will have risen quite a bit. Add the remaining bread flour, salt, boiled cider, vanilla, cinnamon, all the liquid from the pan where the apples were cooked, and any additional juices that have seeped from the apples as they rested. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and silky.

Flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Put the apples on top of the dough and fold and knead the dough until the apples are incorporated into the dough. It's fine if some are sticking out the sides, but try to get them evenly distributed.

Put the dough back into the bowl to rise again. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the dough has doubled, take it out of the bowl and form it into a nice tight ball. Try to make sure all the apples are encased in the dough. Place the dough, seam-side down, on the baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 20 minutes. Bake at 350 degree for about 40 minutes, until it is golden brown.

Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

This has been submitted to YeastSpotting.