Monday, 1 October 2012

Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Braided Bread

I know that there's a picture of bread up there but, honestly, I can barely focus on it. You see, I visited the Diamonds exhibition at Buckingham Palace yesterday and my eyes are still dazzled. Among other side-effects: any gem smaller than my fist will now be considered puny, I'm lamenting the sad lack of opportunities to wear tiaras in everyday life, and I'm seriously trying to decide which would be more useful - a diamond-encrusted sword, or a diamond-encrusted ostrich feather fan? These are the important questions of our time, people. Dine at Mine is grappling with the big stuff.

If anyone is considering making the trip, though, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The jewels sparkle their little hearts out, the photos of the Queen wearing said jewels are delightful, and although it was extremely busy, they rationed the number of visitors allowed in at any one time so you got proper face time with the gems. 


As well as the Diamonds, your ticket includes entry to all of the State Rooms (play pick-your-favourite-chandelier) as well as the gardens and oh-so-tasteful shop. Well, tasteful and extortionate, clearly, but I'll forgive them a lot amid such beautiful mint green bunting. Doesn't mean I'm going to pay thirteen quid for an embroidered guardsman Christmas decoration, though. There's patriotic and then there's just plain silly.

But let's return to the real world, where my ceilings aren't panelled in gold and my domestic staff don't wear Hogwarts-style capes (or, for that matter, exist). This bread is an adaptation of one I made in April and if I say so myself, it's better. Buttery, cinnamon-spiced apples and raisins in a tender, sweet crust - it's basically cake masquerading as breakfast. Or afternoon tea, pudding, or any other occasion when you want a little slice of autumn.

And although I can't promise that Her Maj breakfasts on anything similar, this was inspired by another Queen of my heart - her wonderfulness, Mary Berry, and the sweet celebration breads of last week's GBBO. Just like last time, it didn't seem to rise much, but once again that didn't seem to impair its deliciousness at all. Make it on a Saturday, leave in the fridge overnight and bake on Sunday morning for a breakfast fit for a Queen. If any inhabitants of Buckingham Palace are interested in trading bread for diamonds, I might be prepared to swap.  

Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Braided Bread
Adapted from this recipe

- 6 tablespoons of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of caster sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons of instant yeast 
- 25g plain flour

- 75g yoghurt or sour cream (I used yoghurt)
- 50g unsalted butter, soft
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 45g caster sugar
- half a teaspoon of salt
- a teaspoon of vanilla extract or half a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
- 265g of either plain flour (which I used) or strong bread flour

Cream cheese filling
- 65g cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 25g of sour cream (I used yoghurt again)
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 15g of plain flour

Apple and raisin filling
- 4 eating apples
- 25g brown sugar
- squeeze of lemon juice
- knob of butter
- teaspoon of cinnamon
- 50g raisins

- 1 egg, beaten
- either demerara sugar or pearl sugar

Start off by making the sponge - mixing everything together well, then leave for 15 minutes, loosely covered in clingfilm. 

In a big electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the sponge, sour cream/yoghurt, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla. Chuck in the flour and mix until it looks like a rough, shaggy ball. Then swap to the dough hook and knead it for 5-6 minutes or until smooth and springy. Cover with cling film and put the bowl in a warm place to rise, in theory until doubled and puffy (I just left it for a couple of hours then got impatient and carried on). 

While it's rising, mix together the cream cheese, caster sugar, sour cream/yoghurt, lemon juice and flour until smooth and lump-free. 

Peel and core the apples and cut into small chunks. Melt a knob of butter in a small saucepan and add the brown sugar, apples, raisins, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the apple is soft and the raisins are plump. Set aside to cool.

When the dough has risen, squash it down in the bowl with your hands then tip out onto a clean, floured surface. Roll it out into a large rectangle, about the size of a baking sheet - it'll be quite stretchy and annoying so just do your best. At this stage, shimmy the dough onto a big piece of baking parchment. 

Using the side of your hand, press two lines on the dough dividing it into three lengthways - not cutting through, just marking it out so you have three equal long rectangles. Do the same thing with your hand to mark off about 5cm in from each short end. All this marking with the side of your hand should leave you with an inner rectangle surrounded by a frame (you can see it in the photo above, covered in cream cheese). Cut off the four corner squares with a sharp knife and roll them around any kind of filling for a cook's treat. 

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the inner rectangle, then dollop the fruit on top of it. You can also scatter some extra demerara on the fruit here, if you fancy (I did). Cut the long side rectangles into strips as in the photo above, so that the inner rectangle looks fringed on either side. The strips should be about an inch thick and as symmetrical as possible (so that there are the same number on each side). 

Fold the short end rectangles up and over the fruit. Then start at one end and fold the fringey strips up and over the filling diagonally, one at a time and alternating sides, so that it looks like a braid. This is so much easier to see in the photo than to explain in words. Keep going all the way down until you've "braided" each strip. Then move the braid, on its parchment, onto a baking tray, cover it loosely with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or so. (NB: this is a good opportunity to put it in the fridge or freezer if you want to bake it another time. If so, let it come to room temperature and do the second rise before glazing and baking as normal).

Preheat the oven to 190C. Brush the braid with the beaten egg, sprinkle with pearl sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, until burnished and bronzed. 


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  2. Hi,
    This looks really good... I love apples and raisins!

    1. Thanks Orchidea! I do recommend giving it a go, the apples turned out really well. Thanks for visiting!


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