Country Bread with Apples

A good way to use up some of the random flours in the pantry, plus an excuse to crack a bottle of sparkling cider, discover it doesn’t have the little plastic lid for re-sealing, and chug half you don’t need for the bread while standing in your kitchen. This bread has a good crisp crust, and the inside is light but sturdy enough to stand up to both slicing and being spread with brie. The cider provides a sort of sharpness to the dough, and the apples, even though you use tart ones, provide some sweetness.

Due to the various rising times, during normal life this bread is probably best started on a Friday or Saturday evening and finished over a leisurely weekend morning, but during lockdown life…does it even really matter?

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups sparkling cider (such as Martinelli’s), at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I have white whole wheat, so it’s ok if your dough looks a bit darker colored than mine)
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup rye flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped green apples, about 1 large Granny Smith apple

In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water and let sit 5 minutes.

Stir in the cider.

Add all three flours and the sea salt, and stir together until it forms a shaggy dough.

Turn out onto a clean surface and knead until it forms a smooth dough.

Grease your bowl, then put the dough in the bowl, rotating to cover lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the bowl from the fridge, placing it in a warm spot, such as the oven with just the light on, until room temperature, about 2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands, then flatten the dough. Sprinkle a handful of apples over the dough, fold the dough over the apples, flatten again, then repeat until all the apples have been worked into the dough. Shape the dough into a ball.

Never cut directly on a silpat or you’ll damage the heat-proof coating!

Wash, dry, and grease your bowl, then place the dough ball back in, again rolling to cover lightly in oil, and finishing with the smooth/nice side of the dough ball up. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, then place a dry towel on top. I used just a paper towel for the wet one, it was fine. Return the bowl to your warm place and let rise until the dough is doubled, and a slight indentation remains in the dough if you press it, 2-3 hours.

Deflate the dough and turn back out to the lightly floured surface. Dough may be moist because of the apples. Flour either a banneton (special bread shaping basket), or a bowl lined with a kitchen towel. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place, rounded-side-down, into the banneton/bowl.

Cover again with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

During the final rise time, preheat oven to 450 degrees, heating a baking stone on the middle rack if you have one. Fill a clean spray bottle with water. Once the dough is ready, remove the baking stone. Dust the baking stone, or a baking sheet, with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and turn the dough out of its banneton/bowl onto it. Cut two 1/2″ deep slashes across the dough with a damp serrated knife.

Place the baking stone/sheet in the oven and quickly spray a handful of squirts of water into the oven. Bake 3 minutes, then crack the door just enough to quickly spray a bit more water. Bake an additional 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 and bake another 20-25 minutes. When the bread is a deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, it’s fully baked.

Cool fully on a wire rack before slicing.

If you’re newish to bread baking, a few things to know are that both using the baking stone (also called a pizza stone) and adding steam (via your squirt bottle) during baking help produce a crusty bread. Every time you open the oven door, the temperature goes down, so you don’t want to do it just for the heck of things, or because of curiosity. If bread is sliced while it’s still hot, or even warm, lots of the moisture in it escapes as steam, leading to a less pleasant texture once cooled, so if you don’t have enough people around to eat your entire loaf while still lot, it’s better to let it cool entirely before slicing it at all. You can always warm a slice back up in the toaster later! Finally, slashing the surface of the bread just prior to baking means that when the bread expands in the oven, which it will, you’ve already given it ‘fault lines’ to grow open, rather than just having the top split multiple places in squiggly lines as the pressure builds.

Country Bread with Apples

Adapted from NYT Cooking.

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups sparkling cider (such as Martinelli’s), at room temperature
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup rye flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped green apples, about 1 large Granny Smith apple

In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water and let sit 5 minutes. Add the cider, then all three flours and the sea salt. Stir together until it forms a shaggy dough, then turn out onto a clean surface and knead until it forms a smooth dough. Grease your bowl, then put the dough in the bowl, rotating to cover lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Remove the bowl from the fridge, placing it in a warm spot, such as the oven with just the light on, until room temperature, about 2 hours. Gently deflate the dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands, then flatten the dough. Sprinkle a handful of apples over the dough, fold the dough over the apples, flatten again, then repeat until all the apples have been worked into the dough. Shape the dough into a ball.

Wash, dry, and grease your bowl, then place the dough ball back in, again rolling to cover lightly in oil, and finishing with the smooth/nice side of the dough ball up. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, then place a dry towel on top. I used just a paper towel for the wet one, it was fine. Return the bowl to your warm place and let rise until the dough is doubled, and a slight indentation remains in the dough if you press it, 2-3 hours.

Deflate the dough and turn back out to the lightly floured surface. Dough may be moist because of the apples. Flour either a banneton, or a bowl lined with a kitchen towel. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place, rounded-side-down, into the banneton/bowl. Cover again with a damp towel, and let rise until doubled, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

During the final rise time, preheat oven to 450 degrees, heating a baking stone on the middle rack if you have one. Fill a clean spray bottle with water. Once the dough is ready, remove the baking stone. Dust the baking stone, or a baking sheet, with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and turn the dough out of its banneton/bowl onto it. Cut two 1/2″ deep slashes across the dough with a damp serrated knife. Place the baking stone/sheet in the oven and quickly spray a handful of squirts of water into the oven. Bake 3 minutes, then crack the door just enough to quickly spray a bit more water. Bake an additional 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 and bake another 20-25 minutes. When the bread is a deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, it’s fully baked.

About sparecake

My name's Corinne, and I like cake, cookies, and chocolate! Also, non-c-things such as ponies, Star Trek, and biking. I write a food blog and a blog about life, wide open spaces, and museum work. Nice to meet you!
This entry was posted in Bread and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.