Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ring Around the Pastry

For when it's chilly.  

 For when clouds are gray.

 For all the times you wished for comfort in your belly.

 For the moments on the couch when nothing else will do but a good movie and a good nosh.

 For the long work days.

For the mornings when you just can't quite get out of bed.

 For nights you just can't pull dinner together.

I bring you this.

I bring you love.

Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread
From Joy the Baker

The Dough:

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 - 155 degrees)
big pinch of sugar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
1 cup warm whole milk (105 - 115 degrees)

The Filling:

3 large apples, cored, peeled and cut into small cubes (I used Winesap apples)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

The Streusel:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
pinch of cardamom
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, whisked, and sugar for topping the dough before baking

To make the Dough:
1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and the pinch of sugar.  Stir together until yeast is dissolved and set aside for 10 minutes.  

2. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, cardamom and salt on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and add in the eggs plus 1 cup flour.  Blend on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer, add in 2 more cups of flour and the yeast mixture, and warm milk.  Mix on medium speed until the flour just begins to disappear.  This mixture will be fairly sticky/wet.  This is definitely a good sign!  Add in 1 1/2 cups more flour, blending until flour is thoroughly incorporated.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, turn out the dough and knead for 5 - 8 minutes.  You want the dough still slightly tacky.  Place the dough ball in a large oiled bowl, covering with plastic wrap over the top, and a terry cloth.  Place in a warm, dry area for 1 1/2 hours, at which point your dough will have doubled in size.

In the meant time... let's make the filling and streusel:
1. In a bowl, toss together the diced apples and the lemon juice.  In a separate small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cornstarch, nutmeg, and salt.  Add to the apples and toss gently to combine.  Set aside at room temperature.

2. For the streusel, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cardamom in a small bowl.  Using a pastry blender, or your fingers, incorporate the butter into the mixture until crumbly and evenly distributed.  Set aside until ready to use.

Let's assemble!:

*line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside*

1. After the dough has doubled in size, turnout on to a lightly floured work surface.  Using a large knife (or pastry scraper), cut the dough ball in half.  Roll out each dough piece into a soft rectangle (roughly 10"x14").  Divide the streusel mixture between the two rectangles and sprinkle from edge to edge.  Do the same with the apples, taking care to also add the apple juices that have materialized in the bowl.  Yummmmm.

2.  Roll length-wise until you have a long tube.  Don't make it a tight roll - you want room to expand.  Repeat with the second roll.  Carefully lift each roll to the prepared  baking sheets.  Shape into horseshoes.  Using a sharp knife, make cuts about 1 inches apart, not going all the way through to the other side of the dough and leaving 1/2 in of dough uncut.  (the picture up there helps). Cover each roll with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Before the rolls go in, brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle heavily with the sugar.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, when the tops are golden brown and cooked through.  This bread can be pulled apart or cut apart and served with coffee or tea.  Eat the love.  Share the love.

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