I am a bit odd when it comes to apples. I don’t like them. Except for these apples. These apples I will eat every day that they are in season and come up with ways to preserve them just a little bit longer. I love them. But they are the only ones. They are the apples from the tree in my parent’s front garden. These apples are ‘Discovery’ and are an eating apple that does a bang up job of being a cooking apple too. When ripe they are gorgeously fragrant and the flesh holds a rosy pink blush, which makes these just the prettiest apples ever!
In this incarnation I have worked them into a sweet braided crown the better to cram as much appley goodness into every bite as I can. It’s a bit tricky, and some may say overloaded, but no. More apple = better! The enriched dough makes a perfect vehicle for these lovely chunks of apple and the sticky cinnamon sauce it all creates is a delight! I’m sure if this were to be presented on Bake Off there would be “Soggy Bottom” comments but I really can’t bring myself to care, the juicy apples and sweet cinnamon are worth a tiny bit of sog!
If you wanted to you could brush the finished crown with an apricot (or apple jelly!) glaze to make it shine and a drizzle of simple glace icing would make it look lovely too. Alas, I had run out of icing sugar on this occasion and couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you so you have here the unglazed crown. Still beautiful in its own way!
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter
135ml warm milk
3 apples, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon (or less if you prefer)
4 tbsp granulated sugar
– Take a large mixing bowl and add the flour, then add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.
– Mix it all together.
– Chop your butter up into little bits and add this along with the milk and egg.
– Get in there with one hand and mix everything together.
– Keep mixing by hand in the bowl. It will be sticky but keep going and after not too long it will start to come together into a cohesive dough.
– Once you have almost everything as one ball of dough you can turn it out onto a floured worksurface and really start kneading! (There will still be some sticky bits, you can take a small bit of dough and clean round the bowl to mop up stragglers.)
– Keep working it, the trick with a wetter dough is time!
– After about 10 minutes you should have a smooth, elastic dough.
– Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and place somewhere sheltered to rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. I found 2 hours about perfect.
– Prepare your apples.
– Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worksurface. Do NOT knock it down.
– Simply start to roll it out with a rolling pin. You want it to be about 25cm deep and 45cm long. Try to keep it rectangular.
– Scatter the surface with 2 tbsp sugar, then the cinnamon, then the apples, then the remaining 2 tbsp sugar.
– Carefully roll the long end of the dough towards you, keeping the apples inside and keeping the roll quite tight.
– When you have a long roll gently press to seal the dough back to itself.
– Starting about 1″ in from the end cut straight through the dough all the way along to the other end.
– Now for the messy bit! Twist each half around the other, one over the top, followed by the next, arranging the cut side so it faces uppermost. Shove the apple back in as it falls out!
– Gently manoeuver onto a baking tray covered in baking parchment and bring each end round to form a circle. Press the ends together gently to secure.
– Place in a plastic bag (bin bags work well here) and leave in a sheltered spot to rise for another hour.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Bake for 25 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray.
– When cool the sticky puddle of sauce in the centre should separate nicely as you peel the baking paper away leaving you with your crown!
– Serve as is or glaze with jam and drizzle with icing, the choice is yours!