During this pandemic just about everyone jumped on the bread bandwagon. I think learning how to make sourdough bread was basically everyone’s bucket list recipe during this time - so much so that there was a flour shortage at most grocery stores! Here at The Chopping Block, our Artisanal Breads Boot Camp is one of our most popular classes and it was the most requested class by students during our quarantine period.
We tried our hand at a virtual version taught by Chef Melina Kelson, a Certified Master Baker, Certified Bread Baker, Certified Viennoiserie Baker, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, and a Certified Hospitality Educator. She taught Culinary Arts for 18 years and created the Artisan Bread and Viennoiserie programs at Kendall College in Chicago. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Bread Bakers Guild of America for a dozen years. She currently operates Bootleg Bâtard, a wood-fired microbakery in Skokie, IL. She was a wealth of information and the class was fantastic. But there is something about making the dough in front of you with your own two hands and feeling the reactions of the dough that you just can’t achieve in a virtual setting.
I wish I knew more about bread to teach you how to troubleshoot all of the issues that arise (for example in the picture above; what happened here?) and all of the in-depth science that goes into baking fresh bread but alas, bread baking is not my forte. I can follow recipes, and I understand the basics but usually I stick to pretty straightforward breads like a simple focaccia bread. This bread is very forgiving and a great starter bread for those just getting into bread making.
There are so many different breads from all of the world. I like to breakdown bread into two categories: yeast doughs and non-yeast doughs. There are quick breads like banana bread that rely on other leaveners besides yeast to make them rise. These breads are very straight forward and can be made in a very short period of time. Yeast doughs require just a little more time and patience but once you understand the nuances of how the ingredients come together, they are well worth the time.
At its very base all bread starts with a very few simple ingredients: water, yeast and flour. Sure, there are some breads that have other liquids used, different types of flour, or other flavoring agents, and these ingredients have the power to transform bread into something spectacular. The recipe I am sharing with you today is a sweet yeast dough very similar to a babka. It may seem like a difficult bread to make, but it comes together fairly quickly. The added milk and butter creates a soft texture with a small crumb, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Apple Butter Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes: 1 loaf of bread
1 cup water, warm
1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 -4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup apple butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1. Place the warm water in a bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.
2. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
3. Once bubbling, add the milk, brown sugar and butter.
4. Blend in 2 cups of the flour and the salt until moistened.
5. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.
6. Stir in an additional 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups flour, until dough pulls away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
7. Knead on floured surface, adding 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional flour, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
8. Place dough in large greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
9. Lightly mist a 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.
10. Stir the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
11. Combine the apple butter with the vanilla bean paste
12. Punch down the dough and roll it into a rectangle, about 9 inches on the short side and 1/4 inch thick.
13. Spread with a thin layer of apple butter mixture, and top with most of the cinnamon sugar.
14. Starting at the short side, roll into a tight log (like a cinnamon roll).
15. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving the two halves attached at one end.
16. Twist the two long pieces together and place in the prepared pan.
17. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
18. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
19. Uncover dough and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
20. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.
21. Cool completely before slicing.
This bread can easily be customized with different fillings. I like using Nutella, peanut butter or other fruit spreads. It is a very rustic type bread so don’t worry if the braid is perfect or if there is filling coming out of the sides. I promise it will still be delicious!
I would love to hear what flavor combination you will try. This week’s TCB cooking challenge for our private Facebook group is bread, and I want you to try your hand at making everyone’s favorite carb whether it is a quick bread, yeast bread, flatbread or even a gluten-free bread.
I am so pleased to say we finally have our talented pastry chef Erin Patsiopoulous back teaching, and our Artisanal Breads Boot Camp is officially on the calendar on September 19, 2021. Our first session on August 8 sold out very quickly, so make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to join this awesome class where you will learn to make a braided loaf like the recipe I provided but also how to make sourdough pizza. It is absolutely delicious!