Baking my way through unemployment

Since I haven’t started working yet, I’ve been spending a lot of time pursuing my hobbies. These past two weeks, I have watched a lot of Netflix. I’ve also done some gardening and some sewing.

Mostly, I’ve been cooking and baking. My husband even told me I should stay unemployed so I can do more baking. He’s enjoyed coming home to the almost-daily surprises of bread, cookies, desserts and other goodies.

Baking is a pretty inexpensive hobby. A jar of yeast costs a few dollars and lasts for quite a while. Flour and sugar are cheap, especially if you stock up when they’re on sale. With the exception of chocolate chips, I haven’t gone out and bought any special ingredients for my baking escapades. Plus, a girl’s gotta eat something. 🙂

For this apple braid, I used the last of a batch of sliced apples I froze last fall. We ate this for “breakfast for dinner” alongside eggs and bacon last night. It tiptoes right along that dessert/breakfast pastry line.

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Apple Braid

Filling
• 2-3 cups coarsely chopped apples
• 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
• lemon juice
• cinnamon

Dough
• 3 cups white flour
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon instant yeast
• 3/4 tablespoon salt
• 1 cup warm water
• 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil

Glaze
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• pinch salt
• pinch nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss apples in enough lemon juice to cover (you’re not trying to make the mixture wet), then add brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Bake in a ceramic or glass dish for about 15 minutes.

While apple mixture is baking, combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and oil, then mix on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. Dough should pull away from sides of the bowl but still feel sticky. If your dough does not pull away from the side of the bowl, add small amounts of flour until desired consistency is achieved.

Transfer dough to a well greased baking sheet. Roll dough into a rectangular shape, using a well-floured rolling pin. Using an oiled sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut strips as illustrated in this wonderful diagram (I should have taken a photo!) The middle third of the dough should remain uncut.

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Spoon apples onto uncut portion of the dough. Criss-cross dough strips over the apples at an angle to create a braided effect.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until browned.

While bread is baking, heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add salt and brown sugar, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until brown sugar is melted. Remove from heat.

Using a sifter or a wire mesh strainer, sift powdered sugar into glaze mixture, stirring frequently.

When the bread has finished baking, move bread from baking sheet to a wire rack. Position baking sheet under the cooling rack to catch any drips, and spoon glaze all over the bread.

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Slice and enjoy.

 

 

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