This is a very nice bread I made after observing my apples weighing down the apple tree in the back garden. I considered an apple tart but was in the mood for making bread so apple bread, or apple focaccia, which sounds smarter and more sophisticated was chosen. On top of that, I just couldn’t go through the whole winter without posting at least one apple recipe and this bread is a very worthy recipe.
I wanted the bread to be somewhat sweet so decided to just make a basic white bread and enrich it with some butter and sugar. However I also replaced the water with a mixture of eggs and milk, as is done when making brioche to make an even richer bread.
The basic bread formula that I follow for most of my breads is basically about 64% water. That basically means that for every kilogram of flour, I use approx. 640 ml or grams (weighing is more accurate) of water and therefore for 500 g of flour I use about 320 ml of water. I went for a dough that was about 61% liquid for this bread. The reason that I didn’t go for a higher percentage of liquid was because the butter was rubbed into the flour which tends to make a wetter dough as the flour absorbs less liquid.
This dough was actually the nicest dough I have ever worked with. It was so smooth and soft from the butter and I would nearly make it again purely for the feel of the dough.
Because the dough is enriched with sugar, butter, milk and eggs it is also much nicer than plain white bread. It is sweet from the sugar and the milk, butter and eggs make a softer crumb that is nearly like brioche, but not quite.
It would be a shame to call this bread a brioche. Brioche is lighter, richer and subsequently a much harder dough to work with. If I had to choose between this bread and a well made brioche, then I would have to choose brioche. However this bread is much easier and also quicker to make than brioche and has a lot less butter which means it is more of an everyday treat and you don’t have to feel bad eating it. After all you are eating one of your five a day.
The dough is much the same as my basic white yeast bread but contains eggs and milk instead of water. Sweet breads also tend to contain more yeast because the butter retards the yeast and so the dough takes longer to rise. This bread therefore contains slightly more yeast than usual to compensate for this.
Apart from that, making this bread is as easy as whipping up a loaf of white yeast bread.
The bread is topped with seasonal apples that are coated with a small amount of sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. After being baked the apples are soft and carmelised and with the bread make a gorgeous accompaniment.
Even if you were to leave out the apples, this recipe would still make a nice bread and would go as well with a bit of ham as it would drizzled with maple syrup. Whatever which way you want to eat this bread, you will do so with ultra happiness.
500 g strong white flour
15 g fresh yeast or 10g fast action dried yeast
80 g butter
50 g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
250 ml milk
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Rub in the yeast followed by the butter. Mix the sugar and salt into the flour. Crack in the egg and pour in the milk. Mix with a wooden spoon or with your hand in the shape of a claw until the dough gathers into a rough mass.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes using the heel of your hand until the dough is smooth and pliable.
- Shape the dough into a ball, then place back into the lightly floured bowl and cover with cling film and/or a cloth. Leave to rise for about 2 hours or until more than doubled in size.
- Place the risen dough onto a buttered baking tray. Rub some butter over the dough aswell.
- For the topping, peel, core and quarter the apples. Toss them in a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.
- Press the apples into the dough and leave the dough to prove (increase in size) for approx. another 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170 degree Celsius. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes or until the bread is cooked through and the apples are tender. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing.