Last week was single digits cold – so cold that I tried not to venture outside unless absolutely necessary. There are neighbors I haven’t seen in weeks. You double up on the sweaters, drink a lot of hot beverages, and bake to keep warm. I made this braided bread out of ingredients I had in – apples, raisins, and walnuts. It smelled fantastic, and it made the kitchen toasty. When it was finished baking, I braved the elements and took it to a neighbor’s house for some much needed catching up!
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 large egg, for egg wash
1. In a medium sized bowl, stir yeast and sugar together, then whisk in the milk. Add the egg yolk and melted butter and stir. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to foam.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it begins to come together. On a lightly floured counter, knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, and shape into a ball. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or shortening, place dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until the dough doubles in size -about 45 minutes to an hour.
3. While the dough rises, make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the room temperature butter, sugar, and cinnamon. (The butter should be softened to a spreadable consistency.) Use a fork to work the cinnamon and sugar into the butter. Set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 375º, and grease a 10″ cast iron skillet.
5. When the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and knead a few times. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Spoon the cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a 1″ border around the edges. Sprinkle the apples, raisins, and walnuts over the cinnamon mixture.
6. Starting at the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends together to seal. With a sharp knife, slice the log in half length wise, leaving an inch at the top uncut. Then braid the dough by lifting one strand over the over until you get to the end. Pinch the ends together to seal, then create a circle, and join the ends.
7. Carefully lift the dough into the greased skillet, and lightly brush with the egg wash. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired.