This is perfection--the fleeting few weeks where the mornings are crisp and cool, the afternoons are warm and bright, and the world bursts into flames of vivid color. These few weeks are what I’ve looked forward to all summer.
Every fall, Boyfriend and I try to make it out to a local farm to pick our own apples and pumpkins. The last few years, we’ve only made it for the pumpkins, but this year I was determined to get some apples too. Luckily, I found myself with a gorgeous, sunny Sunday off, so it was time to hit the orchard and start picking.
Our bag filled up fast, and after jumping mud puddles and climbing trees, we carried home 10 pounds of gorgeous apples. I would have loved to keep picking, but I knew I would struggle finding ways to use the ones I had. After scouring my usual recipe sources, I found the perfect inspiration in what has lately become my new obsession—Pinterest.
It’s there I found the Apple Braid that Rachael of La Fuji Mama posted on Eat, Live, Run. Think of it as "cinnamon roll meets apple pie and get’s braided up into a gorgeous loaf." Incredibly simple to put together and looks like a lot more work than it really is. The best part about it? It’s a yeast dough, but you don’t even have to let it rise. Just mix the dough together, knead it like you would normal yeast dough, roll it out, cut and braid, then bake.
My braid didn’t turn out quite as defined and gorgeous as Rachael’s. (Check out the link to see step-by-step photos of the braiding) I think because I tried to roll it out a bit too big, so my strips were really thin and stretched way too much, but it still turned out nice. (It would probably have also helped if I had a pizza cutter. Cutting with my knife just wasn't working.) I have to say though, while everyone else thought it was good, it still didn’t change my mind. I’m still not a fan of baked apples at all. I thought I’d overcome my baked fruit prejudice with my Peach Cobbler and Peach Handpies, but nope. I just don’t like baked apples. I’ve still got about 8 pounds left, so I’ll definitely be baking more, I just probably won’t be eating them myself... So.. Who wants some apple treats?
Adapted from La Fuji Mama and Eat, Live, Run
Makes one 14-inch loaf
3 to 4 medium sized apples (I used Jonathans)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ½ cups bread flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 (1/4 oz) packet dry active yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Make the apple filling: Peel, core, and chop apples into 1-inch dice. In an 8-inch baking pan (or similar size), toss together apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice, Bake the apples for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside. Leave oven on.
2. While the apple filling is baking, make the bread: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add water and oil and mix with dough hook on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (Alternately you can knead by hand on a clean, lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic.) Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead about 3 or 4 times to give it a smooth surface. Roll out dough into a large rectangle about 12-inches by 16-inches. Lift onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
3. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut each of the long sides of the dough into 1-inch strips, leaving the center third uncut. Spread the apple filling down the middle (uncut) portion of the dough. Starting on the left side, fold the top strip of dough over the filling. Then fold the top strip on the right side over the filling and the other strip, making an X shape across the filling. Press lightly on the ends to seal. Repeat with remaining strips of dough. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for several minutes.
4. While the braid is cooling, make the glaze: Whisk together confectioner’s sugar, whipping cream, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl. When braid is slightly cooled, brush the glaze over top in a thick coat. Transfer braid to a wire rack set over a cooling rack to catch any drips. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature.