Saturday, March 1, 2014

Caramel Apple Bread

The other day, I was looking for inspiration for something to bake to bring to a friend's house. The kids were going to play, the moms were going to chat, and, well, who doesn't love an afternoon snack? I decided to make a chocolate cinnamon pullapart bread and it was quite a hit.

The next day, while perusing facebook, I came across a post from a friend and fellow food blogger for something she called apple fritter bread.

Oh. My. Gosh. It looked so good. Similar to the pullapart bread I'd just made, but with a fresh apple caramel filling.

So, despite the fact that I didn't have a real reason, I decided I was going to make it. Like... right away.

I modified the recipe a bit to make it dairy free, and it actually came together pretty easily.

It starts with the filling. In a skillet, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cornstarch and coconut oil (or butter if you want).

Then add in lots of diced fresh apples.

Then cook that all down until it's bubbly and delicious.

While the filling cools, prepare the dough. It comes together very easily, similar to other sweet, enriched doughs I have made before. The difference? Despite the fact that it's a yeasted dough, the recipe doesn't call for the dough to rest.  So as soon as the dough is kneaded and ready, you can go ahead and roll it out!

The recipe calls for the filling to then be poured over the dough. My caramel was still a bit looser than I'd expected, so I used a slotted spoon and fished out the apples (taking only some of the caramel with me) and spread them over the dough. I then used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares.

The squares were then piled into a loaf pan, and then I poured the remaining caramel over the top.

I was actually concerned when I saw quite how much caramel there was... worried that it might not all absorb into the dough and that it would be a goopy mess at the end, but I put it in the oven and figured I'd see what happened.

Tip if you try this - put a piece of foil  under your pan. As the dough bakes and grows in the oven, some of that caramel sauce spills out. You don't want that on your heating element or baked to the bottom of your oven. Or, in my case, baking onto your pizza stone that you keep on the bottom shelf of the oven. Oops. I put the foil there after the first couple of drips.

But let me tell you something.

It was worth it.

This thing looked and smelled so amazingly delicious, I didn't even mind scraping off the pizza stone.

I pulled it from the oven, removed it from the pan, then immediately left to pick up little miss from school.

And we returned home to a super awesome after-school snack.

Little miss and the friend she was rainbow-looming with absolutely loved it.  Little man, well, not as much. But that's okay. Because little miss and I are certainly happy to enjoy his share of it.

Now, I definitely felt that the bread was more caramel-apple-y than apple-fritter-y, so I'm calling it Caramel Apple Bread. I hope that's okay.

But whatever you call it, you should definitely try it. Because yum.

Caramel Apple Bread
(based on Debbie Does Dinner... Healthy & Low Calorie)

For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
1/4 cup butter (I used coconut oil)

For the filling:
5 - 6 small apples, peeled & diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I didn't have any lemons, so I omitted this)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon butter (I used coconut oil)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
First prepare the filling.
In a skillet, cook apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, butter (coconut oil), cinnamon and cornstarch until mixture is thickened.  Set aside to cool.

While the filling cools, prepare the dough.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles; remove from heat. Add the butter (coconut oil) and stir until melted; set aside to cool until just warm.
Put flour, yeast, brown sugar and salt in a bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer), mix well.
Add the water, egg and milk/butter (coconut oil) mixture.
Mix until dough forms into a ball; knead for an additional five minutes. I used the dough hook attachment of the stand mixer to knead the dough.
At this point, I let the dough rest for about 15 minutes, though the original recipe does not call for a rest. The choice is yours.

On a well floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle.
Evenly spread apple mixture over dough.
Cut dough into even squares, I got about 20 with my dough.
Using a spatula, place piles of dough into prepared pan. Tip it on it's side a bit and put the piles upright. It will be a bit messy, but it's okay.
Bake the bread for 45-50 minutes; until golden brown. I recommend placing a sheet of foil under the pan to catch any of the syrup that drips out during baking. I also checked the bread about 30 minutes into the baking process and tented it with more foil to keep the top from getting too dark.  Once the bread is done, immediately remove from pan.
Allow to cool a bit before serving.


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