Monday, June 15, 2009

Double Apple Bread

The idea for this bread came to me as I was continuing my spring cleaning of the kitchen cabinets and encountered a half-full container of organic dried apples I had bought a couple of months ago at the farmers' market on 47th street. I had some fresh apples as well which I needed to do away with before our trip. I also had some newly bought muesli that I was eager to try.
I remembered reading in Joe Ortiz's The Village Baker that he made a bread with an apple starter and another one with some muesli mash. I didn't have time to make a foolproof apple starter (although I definitely will later on this summer or this fall because I love the idea) but I thought, hey, why not try to just ferment an apple with some sugar and water and see what happens?
If it didn't turn out to be palatable, nothing much would be lost except the apple. As for the muesli mash, it is very easy to make. Just soak the muesli with hot water overnight, in the morning add the flour and the sweetener (inspired by Jeremy from Stir the Pots, I used pomegranate molasses instead of honey) and let it rest between 24 and 36 hours.
But everything hung on the fate of the fermented apples. Would they make the bread or the compost heap? On the day of the baking, when I woke up, I still didn't know. I uncovered the bowl and hesitantly took a tiny bite out of a tiny piece and...the flavor was incredible, both sweet and alcoholic and very, very sophisticated. The juice that had seeped out was marvelous in its own right. It went straight into the dough. Imagine fall concentrated into an elixir and you'll have an idea of what it tasted like. I bet fermented apple pieces would be delicious in sourdough pancakes. That will be for when we come back!

The fermented apple after 5 days
Meanwhile, hesitation was no longer possible, the bread was begging to be made. I knew I wanted a healthy dose of whole wheat flour and I also wanted a very wet dough as the dried apples might soak up all the moisture otherwise and I would end up with an autumn-tasting brick.
So here is the recipe I came up with. I added a tiny bit of honey. For consistency sake, I should have stuck to the pomegranate molasses but, still under the spell of the magical potion, I completely forgot that it had been my sweetener of choice for the muesli mash. Ah well, not to worry! Pomegranate molasses being quite acidic, maybe honey was a better choice anyway, especially because I had forgotten to feed my starter the day before and it was definitely giving me sour looks.

The dried apples from the farmer's market
When I wrote the above post, we hadn't yet tasted the bread. Now we have and we love it. It has a crunchy crust and a flavorful crumb and the pieces of apple are a real treat. The interior could be a bit more open but I am not sure how to go about getting more holes with as much whole wheat. I'll have to experiment. As always, suggestions are welcome!
In any case, my family loved this double apple bread and that makes it a keeper for me as I always like to see them gobble up whole grains without noticing it. Next time however:
  • I will NOT forget to feed my starter the day before
  • Which means that I will NOT use yeast
  • Which also means that I will go for a longer fermentation time
  • Which probably means that I'll retard the dough overnight
  • I will play around with the amount of fermented apples to try and get more of that awe-inspiring liquor which tasted like it was well on its way to transmuting into either calvados (apple brandy) or hard cider, and replace more of the water with it for added flavor
  • I'll probably use a white whole wheat mash (I've never tried one before and I am curious to see how it turns out) which will either replace or complement the muesli
Ingredients (for one large loaf and a small one):

For the fermented apples

  • 165 g firm apple (I used a Fuji), peeled, cored and cut into little pieces, left to marinate for 5 days in a tightly covered bowl with one stirring a day
  • 37 g granulated sugar
  • 26 g water

For the muesli mash

  • 90 g muesli
  • 40 g raisins, added to the muesli prior to soaking
  • 140 g hot water
  • 77 g unbleached all-purpose flour, added after a 12-hour soaking of the raisins and muesli
  • 1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses (or honey), also added after the initial 12-hour soaking

 For the final dough

  • 400 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 400 g white whole wheat
  • 420 g water
  • 200 g mature liquid starter (hydration 100%) all of the muesli mash all of the fermented apples (however the juice is added to the dough at the beginning of the mixing and the pieces of apple themselves at the end)
  • 37 g dried apple slices, roughly chopped
  • 21 g pomegranate molasses (or honey)
  • 20 g hazelnut oil (a neutral oil such as canola or almond would work too)
  • 20 g salt
  • 5 g instant yeast

Method (this bread is made over 6 days):
  1. Five days before baking day, mix apple, sugar and water in a small bowl and cover tightly. Set it to ferment in a warm place and give it a stir every 24 hours
  2. At least 36 hours before baking day, mix the muesli in a small bowl, cover well and let soak overnight or for 12 hours. The following morning, add the flour, cover tightly again and set to ferment in a warm place next to the apples. Forget all about it for the next 24 to 36 hours
  3. On baking day, put the flour, the muesli mash, the starter, the yeast, the oil, 80% of the water and the juice of the fermented apple in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix at low speed until incorporated (adding water as necessary)
  4. Cover the bowl of the mixer with a towel and let rest 20 to 30 minutes (autolyse)
  5. Add the salt and mix at medium-speed until the dough reaches medium consistency (when you pinch off a piece of it with wet hands and stretch it, you should see a thin membrane - or "gluten window" - with opaque spots, which means the dough is ready)
  6. Add the dried apple and mix briefly until well distributed
  7. Place the dough on a flour-dusted surface, knead for a few seconds by hand and incorporate the fermented apples until well distributed
  8. Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bucket or bowl and cover tightly
  9. Leave to ferment for 1 1/2 hour, giving the dough one fold after 30 minutes
  10. Divide in two (I made one large and one small loaf) and pre-shape each piece into a ball, cover and let rest for 20 minutes
  11. Shape tightly into balls and set to proof for about 40 minutes in well-floured baskets or bannetons placed in a clear tightly sealed plastic bag
  12. 30 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 475 F/246 C after placing inside a baking stone and a shallow metal pan
  13. Invert the boules onto a semolina-dusted sheet of parchment paper placed on a baker's peel or half-sheet
  14. Dust them with flour (if desired) and score them
  15. Pour one cup of water in the metal pan, taking care to protect face and hands
  16. Slide the boules into the oven (still on the parchment paper) directly onto the baking stone
  17. Spray the oven walls with water
  18. Close the oven door and lower the temperature to 450F/232C
  19. After 30 minutes, rotate the boules and check the color of the crust. If already quite dark, lower the oven temperature and/or protect the boules with tented foil
  20. Bake another 10 minutes
  21. Turn off the oven and, keeping the oven door ajar, let the loaves dry out another 5/10 minutes
  22. Set to cool on a rack.
This Double Apple Bread goes to Susan, from Wild Yeast, for Yeastpotting.


  1. New temtation!
    I am goind to try baking this apple bread--only need to buy same fresh apples--and I am ready.
    You*re such a creative !!!
    Thanks for the new temtation,this bread just **killed**:) me this morning.

  2. Alla, thank you for being such a bread enthusiast! I love it. Let me know if you make the bread...

  3. What a unique and beautiful bread! When I lived in New England and we could get real, fresh sweet cider (which is very difficult to find here) I loved leaving it in the refrigerator until it was what some would call "past its prime" but what I thought was perfect -- and just as you describe your fermented apples, sweet and alcoholic and sphisticated. So I am vividly imagining those apples now, and plotting the bread. Thank you!

  4. Halo MC,
    Looks great, I did the Ortiz bread once, and it does work. Though most of his recipes from his book I did attempt were a bit troublesome, and I think that can be said for a lot of other bread books from bakers that were out on the shelves along time back; editors weren't so keen on making bread then selling a book I think?
    I think that bread needs some good sheep cheese with it!!!
    Bon Voyage!


  5. Dear MC, your double apple bread is gorgeous! What a great idea! I love the look of the fermented apples after 5 days. I will definitely try your idea and make it a Triple Apple Sourdough (with apple puree as well).

    Thanks for sharing this fabulous bread and have a great trip in France.

  6. Hi, Susan, you gave me a great idea, thank you! Since I still live in New England, I am going to make the bread this fall with fermented apples AND fermented cider! Wow...
    Hi, Jeremy, you are right, a sheep cheese would be awesome with it, although not the Roquefort kind. Now that you mention it, I remember making an apple bread ages ago. I wonder if it was from the Ortiz book. I don't remember much about it, except that I had certainly used yeast (active dry yeast at that time)and maybe too much of it because, novice baker that I was then, I set the dough to ferment in a big tightly sealed dough bucket (the type King Arthur sells) and we went sightseeing for the day with my parents who were visiting and when we came back, filaments of dough were hanging from the ceiling and there were splotches on the walls, the windows, everywhere! The dough must have literally exploded out of the bucket. That was a huge mess and come to think of it, the reason I don't remember much about that bread is that I never got to make it!
    Shiao-Pin, thank you! You know what? I almost made it a Triple Apple Bread as well but at the last minute, since I was going to put in a lot of water, I decided to try it first without the puree. So I'll be very interested to see how it turns out. Are you planning on using whole wheat too?

  7. Hi MC,
    I agree that we don't do enough with "fermented" foods! Glad to see you are adventurous with it - I once picked some collards from my garden, and put them in a 5 gallon bucket to wash them - then I forgot them for five days! When I next saw them, they were evervescent - I was going to pitch them, but decided to at least try them first - they were a taste sensation! Now I do it on purpose.

    Have a happy trip.

  8. Hi, John, thanks for visiting. I'll have to try and forget some collards in a 5-gallon bucket of water someday as I can't imagine how they turned out. A bit like sauerkraut?

  9. What a wonderful and fabulous bread you have here!

  10. Hi MC,
    Nice job! This is truly a beautiful bread. Seems like a really sharp cheddar would be awesome with it. Can I ask the hydration of this? If my math is right, I got 71'ish percent. I'm still working on the baker's percentage thing. Thanks!

  11. Stunning bread MC, I will have to have a go at this bread when time permits, your bread is always so beautiful! Teresa/Discovering Sourdough

  12. Hi MC

    Thanks to you I have now made my Triple Apple Custard Sourdough( I added custard into the dough as I really love the combination of apples and custard. Thanks so much again for the great idea! Have a great vacation in France!

  13. Oh Farine this bread looks amazing. I have bookmarked this recipe for when I have a week home to spend the time making it.



Blog Designed by: Deanna @ Design Chicky