in the kitchen // apple braid

Thursday, January 30, 2014

With the "polar vortex" sweeping through the midwest this winter, it's been hard to bring myself to leave the house. I'm sure you would agree that just the thought of piling on the layers (and by that I mean five or more layers), waiting for the car to warm up, and driving on icy roads would be enough to put you off. 
So what better time to turn on the oven than when it's cold and you're stuck indoors? It means getting to enjoy warm homemade goodies and having an extra source of heat in the house. After consulting my family members, everybody seemed to want something involving bread. With the entire day ahead of me, I decided to recreate an apple braid that I used to make. The result was a challah-like bread dough with a slightly sweet apple and raisin filling with apricot jam. 

My family loved it and even had suggestions for future variations. I'll give you a hint, barbecue pork buns might be coming your way. This bread is perfect for breakfast or a mid-day snack. The braid is beautiful and really quite simple to make. It does require some time, making it the perfect project for your next snow day!

Apple Braid
Makes 1 loaf
Recipe adapted from Toxo Bread and My Kitchen Snippets
Ingredients:
Sponge
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 warm milk
1 cup bread flour

Dough
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter, softened

Filling
3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (or lime)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup apricot jam

Egg glaze
1 egg
1 tsbp milk

To make the sponge: Dissolve sugar in the warm milk (not too hot, think baby bottle on wrist temperature). Stir the yeast into the milk. After 5-10 minutes, the yeast should form a creamy foam on the surface of the milk mixture. Add the 1/2 cup flour and mix until combined. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes. 

Add the egg, salt, sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour to the sponge, and mix until smooth. Add the butter in small chunks and mix well. Add the remaining flour gradually and mix in until a soft and kneadable dough is achieved. Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer for about 5-8 minutes. It should feel smooth and supple by this time. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, around 1 1/2 hours. My kitchen was on the cold side (with -40F wind chills outdoors!), I put it in a slightly warm oven (turned on for about 1-2 minutes).

To prepare the filling: Melt the butter and sugar, then add in the apples and lemon juice. Cook until the apples are soft and the juice are nearly evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the cinnamon and raisins. Mix well and set it aside to cool.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to a roughly 18"x12" rectangle. Spread the apricot jam down the middle and top it with the apple filling. 

On each long side, cut 1" wide strips about 2" into the center. Starting at one end, fold alternate strips at an angle across the filling. Gently press on strips to seal the folds. Brush the braid with egg wash then loosely cover the braid with cling wrap. Set aside to rise until puffy looking, approximately 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let it cool completely on wire rack. Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

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2 comments

  1. Glad that you resumed blogging! Good luck in your working life! :D

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    Replies
    1. Me too :). Thanks and hope you're doing well!

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