I'm always a little confused when someone says a baked good tastes "just like store bought!" I realize it's supposed to be a compliment, but when did that shift happen? When did commercial products, with all their additives and imitation flavorings, surpass homemade? And yet, my first response to this loaf was, "It tastes like store bought."
To me, this is not a good thing. In this case, though, the pure apple flavor was noticeably real and not out of a bottle, which set this loaf above any store product. The two things that did it in were 1) the princess cake flavor, and 2) the texture. It still was a hit at work. One coworker's response was,
"I just had an epiphany. I think when someone says 'store bought' in terms of baked goods, what they really mean to say is 'professional'. Huge difference. That bread was amazing. It had a professional texture and crumb and I totally tasted the cheese, just the right amount. That was great!"
I bought this princess cake flavoring a while ago not knowing what it was. I was curious. Now I realize it's what gives store-bought pastries their distinctive store-bought taste -- something I could never before identify. It's not necessarily a bad taste -- sort of a mild lemony-vanilla -- but I associate it with Entenmann's (and other doughy, overly sweet products), so I'm not a fan.
Which brings me to the texture... I would call it "spongy". Had I not baked it myself, I would have thought it had artificial texturizers in it. Many people like that soft, squishy texture, but to me it's unnatural. But with all that being said, I nonetheless harfed down half the loaf in one sitting! I have to admit there is something addictive about that spongy softness!
I halved the recipe to make a single loaf, so those are the quantities shown here as the original. Then I made a few personal changes; additions are in italics. I changed out the glaze completely and used a lot less of it; I don't generally like pouring what amounts to liquid sugar all over my hard work. Those quantities are approximate, as I was just winging it and tasting along the way.
Here's what I used:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
5/8 cup bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
5/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon Princess Cake Flavor
1/2 large egg
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup peeled, grated apple
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1+ tablespoon heavy cream
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter, flavoring, egg, and milk, then mix until a shaggy dough forms. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the liquid fully, making it easier to knead.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes; it should feel slightly sticky and soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough feels firm or dry. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it's almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Before assembling the bread, toss the grated apples with the sugar mixture and mix well. Gently deflate the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Fold it over once or twice to remove the excess gas. Roll the dough into a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1/2-inch margin clear of filling along all sides. Sprinkle with cheese.
|Looks like a pizza. Ha!|
Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log, sealing the edge. Transfer the log to a sheet of parchment paper or a well-greased baking sheet. Cut the log in half lengthwise. Keeping the filling side up, twist the two halves together, working from the center to each end. Pinch the ends together. Cover the twist lightly and set aside to rise for 1 to 2 hours.
|Just before baking.|
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Check the loaves after 20 minutes and tent with aluminum foil if it's browning too quickly around the edges. (I rotated after 12 minutes and baked for a total of 25.) Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for about 1 hour before glazing and serving. Mix together all of the glaze ingredients and drizzle it over the loaf once it's cool.
Conclusion: I'm not sure I'd make this again. It was good, but fussy to make and not sure it's worth all that trouble. The apple mixture is too wet for this style of bread and so you can't use much of it, while I think the loaf could have used more filling. It's not terribly sweet, which is fine because you could serve it with some of the richer breakfast items. I would have liked a much applier-cheesier filling, something more streusely. The bread recipe is a good one to remember, though, for when you want a very soft white loaf. (Maybe for monkey bread!)
Recipe: Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread via King Arthur Flour