Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread with Egg Wash on top
I’ve baked apples in many forms: in tarts, galettes and pies but have never put them in a loaf of bread. The apple twist bread is ABC’s challenge for October. Skepticism aside, I plunged in and baked the bread. The diversity of apples available in the fall is enticing enough for me to use apples anyway I can. I used Honey Crisp apples for this recipe because I had them in my pantry to be eaten fresh.
I ate a piece of this bread, which I made yesterday, for breakfast. This is a sweet bread, not my usual healthy breakfast item. The sweet tooth in me approved and, well, I had until the end of the day to tackle those extra calories. Then the doorbell rang…. Making a long story short, I offered the cinnamon-apple twist bread to the unexpected guests. They loved it. That made my day!
I made a few changes to the original recipe from King Arthur Flour. That included the usual suspects in making food more wholesome: swapping out a third of the white flour with whole wheat flour, and substituting and reducing granulated white sugar with Demerara raw cane sugar. I also added some pecans to the fillings to impart some textural elements. The glaze in the original recipe was over-the-top in my book ­­­– adding more sweetness to sweet bread. No glaze, but maybe some egg wash for looks. With the test-kitchen’s cap on, I experimented with a different approach to see whether I can do away with any kind of glazing entirely. Now a trickier substitution: I used pastry flour instead of pastry blend or all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. I knew what I got myself into by using a lower-gluten flour. My bread would be soft and tender, like pastry, but won’t rise as much. For good measure, I sifted all the flours, leaving out the bran in the whole wheat flour.
Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread – Interior
I shaped the bread dough two ways as suggested in the recipe: a twisted loaf and a bunch of rolls. The issue I encountered was not having enough of the cinnamon, apple and pecan filling at the end.  I slathered a generous amount of the filling on the first piece of dough (which became the twisted loaf) and short-changed the second piece of dough (which became the rolls) with just a thin smear. After the bake, I knew I paid the price of my heavy-handedness with the filling for a less-than-optimum rise of the twisted loaf.
The operating manual of my combi-steam oven recommended baking bread rolls and puff pastry in two stages to get that shiny finish on top. Maximum moisture, low temperature in stage one and low moisture, high temperature in stage two. Sounded like a good idea to test out (for both my bread and the oven). I followed this two-stage recommendation and baked the first tray of rolls without any glaze or egg wash on top. The rolls browned evenly right on cue but where’s the shine? Furthermore, the lower initial oven temperature may have contributed to the lack of oven-spring; hence the lower rising rolls. See the picture below.
I proceeded with the second tray of rolls. No steam, just egg wash (by whisking together one egg yolk and one teaspoon of half-and-half) on top. Instead of using a baking sheet, I placed the rolls inside a muffin pan so that the rolls would rise upward and not sideway. Baked them in a regular oven at 350°F without convection. That yielded some surprisingly handsome rolls that can be grabbed on the go. They make perfect bite-size, easy-to-pack finger food. No filling or glaze sticking to your fingers.
Pecans added to apple filling


Baked in a muffin mold

The twisted loaf was the last to bake. I placed it gingerly on a baking sheet. Brushed the loaf with egg wash prepared earlier. This dough benefitted from a longer than two-hour final rise while waiting for the rolls to finish baking. The loaf spread wide and not tall as I’d like. But it tasted delicious. The sweet and tangy flavor of apples, the crunchiness of pecan and the rich aroma of cinnamon spelled autumn harvest in the air.

Baked with steam in two stages

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  • Reply
    October 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Your rolls and loaf look wonderful with such a pretty sheen from the egg wash. I also omitted the icing sugar glaze and didn't miss it.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks for your comment. It's tough to resist the tiny shiny roll in your hand. They were so sweet already, certainly did not need more sugar icing on them.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Wonderful bread and rolls. I totally agree about the icing glaze, I will leave that out myself next time.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    The filling really worked well in your twist. Mine was too much bread and too little filling.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I used Instant Clearjel which seemed to absorb almost instantly most of the liquid. My fillings were quite dry and easy to work with on the dough.

  • Reply
    Dos Gatos Baking
    October 5, 2014 at 3:21 am

    I like your clear explanations of the various techniques you used. I also thought the bread would have benefited from nuts — it needed the crunch. Funny how everyone has different reactions to the sweetness level. My loaf was very bready without a lot of filling — just enough to give a hint of flavor — so really not so sweet. But I also reduced the glaze considerably.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2014 at 4:44 am

    I agree that 8%-9% sugar level in this recipe is not very high. Sweetness has more to do with personal taste, balance and context. Eat it as dessert, it's not sweet at all!

  • Reply
    Trisha Hiers
    October 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I used Honey Crisp apples too- I love those. I agree with you about the filling, it was a little sparse… maybe next time doubling up on the filling ingredients would balance the bread better

  • Reply
    October 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Honey Crisps, pecans and whole wheat flour. We made similar choices with our key ingredients!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Lien, Thanks for visiting. Can't quite decide which one I like better, bread or roll?

  • Reply
    October 14, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I love your results using a third WW flour. The loaves and rolls look very pretty, on the outside as well as the inside. The texture looks soft! Great job!

  • Reply
    Karin Anderson
    October 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Funny, there seem to be a lot of Honey Crisp lovers around – I used it, too. I wasn't quite sure whether this great apple would work in baked goods, but I was very pleased with the taste.
    Lovely breads, all of them!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for your kind words, Hanaa. It's surprising that the whole wheat flavor did not come through in the bread, not a trace.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I don't know whether the saying that, you won't put in the wine you won't like drinking in your cooking, applies to baking as well. But I wouldn't hesitate using Honey Crisp again.

  • Reply
    sunita rohira
    October 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Your rolls and loaf look awesome. Loved the healthy additions and your experiments.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for visiting, Sunita. I like my bread to be healthy as well as tasty.

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