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Friday, October 3, 2014

October ABC Challenge: Cinnamon Apple & Cheddar Twist Bread

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
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/4 cup dried potato flakes
1 heaping tablespoon (1/2 ounce) granular lecithin (optional)
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 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup 2+ tablespoons confectioners' sugar
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


  1. Oh wow, apple and cheese. Heard of that combo in pies but have never tried it. You loaf turned out beautiful and the texture looks great! It was a huge hit at my house. I froze one loaf which I'll take to work this week.

    1. Thanks, Hanaa. I couldn't taste the cheese and thought it needed more of both apples and cheese, but it was still tasty.

  2. My favorite line... But with all that being said, I nonetheless harfed down half the loaf in one sitting!

  3. I can't agree more about your comments on store-bought (or supermarket-grade) bread and pastry could not come close to what we can make in our kitchen. That's why we bake!

    1. Absolutely. You should see my face when someone "compliments" me on something by telling me it tastes just like store bought.

  4. beautiful loaf, so nice and high. I had apple with cheese once in a apple pie with a cheddar crust, goes well together.

    1. Love apple pie with cheese!! In fact, I want to remake that Crusty Apple Pie we did last year and add cheddar to it.

  5. I loved your bread directions and pictures- this helped me figure out how to make an open braid bread! (I closed mine).

  6. Haha, the store-bought "compliment" - I would be very upset, too, if somebody would call my breads "just like store-bought" (thanks for the warning about the Princess Cake Flavor - I will not be tempted to buy it). I'm always amazed that some users of The Fresh Loaf look for a recipe for Wonderbread.
    Your bread looks very good, and the combination with cheese is interesting. I wonder about the spongy, squishy consistency, though, but perhaps mine was different because I exchanged some of the AP for white whole wheat.

    1. Karin, I think that spongy texture came from all the white flour and the addition of potato flour. I'm sure your addition of whole wheat brought some sturdier body to the party.

    2. I just re-read my recipe and remembered I used some bread flour. Perhaps that added to the sponginess, and also might have been why I had a very high rise. (I wanted to finish up the last little bit in the bag.)

  7. So true about living is a time when 'store bought' is thought to be better than home-made!
    Loved the addition of cheese.