Last fall, I got a little carried away with buying apples from the farmers' market. I used some right away, froze more, then made applesauce. There were still apples left, and storage space was getting tight, so I made apple butter. Despite the name, there's no actual butter involved; just apples cooked down much further than applesauce.
You don't need to start with a homemade apple butter—you'll probably find some at the grocery store. Some commercial apple butters include cinnamon and other spices, so choose one you like. If you can only find are plain sauces, add spices to taste. (I left it plain to let the apples shine through.)
Most swirled bread recipes call for the dough to be rolled flat with a rolling pin before covering the dough with the swirl filling, but lately I haven't been happy with the texture of breads made that way. Sure, it works and it looks all precise and flat and square, but why mash it so violently when this dough stretches so willingly?
The resulting bread had a nice soft crumb, even between the closest swirls, with none of the typical smashed flat sections. I'm pretty pleased with this method. This is a great breakfast bread and makes an interesting grilled cheese sandwich, as well.
- Yield:1 loaf
- Active time: 40 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 13 1/2 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup apple butter
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, honey and yeast and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes. Add the bread flour and knead with the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic. It will seem a bit dense, but the butter will add moisture, so don't be tempted to add more water. Add the salt and butter and continue kneading until the butter and salt are completely incorporated.
Remove the dough from the bowl, form it into a ball, drizzle with olive oil, and return it to the bowl. Turn it to coat completely with olive oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to rest until doubled in size, about an hour.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with baking spray and sprinkle some cornmeal on the bottom. When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Without mashing it down too much, stretch into an 8- by 16-inch rectangle. Spread the apple butter on the dough leaving a 1-inch uncovered border on one short end. Roll up the dough, jelly roll style towards that uncovered end. Seal the seam and sides, and place the dough seam-side down, in the pan.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. When the dough has doubled, slash the top of the dough and bake at 325 degrees until nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 35 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely on a rack before slicing.