Apple bread with cider and calvados

Äpplebröd med cider och calvados

Apple bread made with cider and calvados

Äpplebröd med cider och calvados is a stunning bread with a fantastic flavour and a fabulous crust. This recipe produces consistently good results and isn't particularly difficult, provided you have a standmixer, such as a kMix or a KitchenAid, with a dough hook.

Apple bread served with cheese

It is a lovely bread to bake in the autumn when apples are plentiful and at their best. Serve it with ham or cheese and a nice crisp apple for an excellent lunch, or toasted as part of a leisurely weekend brunch.

The cover of Jan Hedh's book

The recipe has been adapted from Jan Hedh's book, Passionerat hantverk på Olof Viktors. Jan Hedh, pictured above on the cover of another of his books, is undoubtably Sweden's most famous baker. (Olof Viktors is the name of his bakery and cafe in southern Sweden which is always busy, despite being in the middle of the countryside miles from anywhere.)

A bowl of poolish prepared for apple bread with calvados

Äpplebröd uses a preferment, known as a poolish. This was invented by Polish bakers, but given the name poolish by French bakers. It uses a small amount of yeast, no salt and equal amounts of flour and water with a long fermentation time to produce a bread that has a better flavour and is easier to digest.

"Easy bake" yeast

This version uses dried fast action yeast, sometimes called "Easy Bake" yeast, as it is widely available. It is activated by mixing with flour, before the liquid is added. If, instead, you use dried active yeast you will need to activate it with water first.

Swedish bread yeast

The original recipe used fresh yeast, which is widely available in Sweden but not in many other countries. Fresh yeast does improve the flavour and gives a bit more rise, but on blind tests I found that very few people could tell the difference. If you want to use fresh yeast you will need 2.5 grams for the poolish and 3.0 g for the final dough, whisking the yeast with the liquid before adding it to the flour, but you don't need to heat the liquid first for this recipe.

I think this is a yummy bread, well worth baking, so I hope you will try it soon! John Duxbury

Summary

Recipe summary for apple bread with cider and calvados

Tips

• The yeast is difficult to measure, but don't worry the quantities are not critical. (A quarter of a teaspoon holds just under 0.8 grams of dried yeast.)

A dusted bread proving basket

• If you've not got a proving basket, line a large mixing bowl with a tea cloth dusted with wholemeal (dark) rye flour instead.
• If you bake a double quantity, divide the dough into two and then shape into batons, so that the loaves can fit side by side in your oven.
• The bread freezes well.

Stage 1: Making the poolish

150 g   strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground
0.7 g (¼ tsp) fast action dried yeast
150 g*   dry cider

*Bakers now measure all quantities in grams, including liquids.

1. Add the flour and yeast to a bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Heat the cider until it is lukewarm (approximately 35ºC/95°F) then whisk into the flour and yeast mixture.

3. Cover with clingfilm (food wrap) or a shower-cap and leave in a warm place (ideally at 24ºC, 75ºF) for about 4 hours, until nice and bubbly. Alternatively, leave somewhere slightly cooler (18°C/64°F) for about 8 hours or overnight.

Stage 2: Making the final dough

300 g   strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground
50 g   whole meal (dark) rye flour, preferably stoneground
0.9 g (¼+ tsp) fast action dried yeast
150 g   water
9 g (1½ tsp) sea salt


4. Mix the dried yeast and flours thoroughly to the bowl of a stand-mixer with a dough hook.

5. Heat the water until it is lukewarm (approximately 35°C/95°F).

6. Add the water and the poolish to the flours and yeast and knead on minimum for 13 minutes.

7. Add the sea salt and knead for 7 minutes at a low speed (2 or 3).

Apple bread dough in a lightly oiled bowl

8. Transfer the dough to lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm (food wrap) or a shower cap and leave in a warm place (ideally at 24ºC, 75ºF) for 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, go on to step 9 in order to give the apple time to cool before you need to use it.

Stage 3: Filling and baking

5 g (1 tsp) unsalted butter
150 g   cored, peeled and diced eating apple*
5 g (1 tsp) soft dark brown sugar
25 g   calvados

*Ideally choose a fairly sharp variety, such as a Cox

9. Heat up the butter in a pan, add the diced apple and then sprinkle over the sugar. Fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Diced apple after frying in calvados

10. Pour over the calvados and continue cooking until the pan is dry. Leave to cool.

11. Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly. Add the cooled diced apple and mix it into the dough, do this in stages to ensure that the apple is mixed in as well as possible, by try not to squash the apple pieces as you do so.

12. Shape into a round and place it in a lightly floured 1 kg lined proving basket. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 75-90 minutes until doubled in size.

13. Add a baking stone to an oven and preheat to 250ºC (475ºF, gas 9, fan 230°C) for at least 30 minutes.

14. Tip the dough directly on to a lightly floured board and score the top a couple of times with a sharp knife held at 45°. Do this as rapidly as you can, making cuts about 3 mm.  (The dough will deflate a bit when you score it, but it will soon spring back when you put it in the oven.) Quickly slide the scored dough onto the baking stone. Heavily spritz your oven with a water spray.

Apple bread baking in an oven
Use a baking stone if possible as it helps with the initial rise.

14. Bake for 45-50 minutes, turning down the temperature to 200ºC (400ºF, gas 6, fan 180°C) after 5 minutes and opening the oven door to let the steam out after approximately 15, 25 and 35 minutes. (The temperature at the centre of the bread should be 97°C (206°F) when the bread is ready.)

Apple bread with cider and calvados on a cooling rack

15. When baked, remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Downloads

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