It’s Bread Baking Babes time of the month and this time it is an Apple Bread with Cider and Calvados. I however baked a Yeasted Apple Bread. So Kelly, our Kitchen of the Month, picked the Apple Bread with Cider and Calvados from Artisan Breads: Practical Recipes and Detailed Instructions for Baking the World’s Finest Loaves, by Jan Hedh. The description from the book says the bread is “tangy, with a strong apple flavour and flaky crust”.
I love most bakes with apples, so I got excited about this bread when I first saw Kelly post it in our private forum more than a month back. Indian apples are in season right now. There’s no apple cider to be had anywhere here and no Calvados either. Actually, I had to look up Calvados! Turns out it is an apple brandy from Normandy in France. This bread is also from Normandy which is famous for its apples.
We’re a no-alcohol family, so without the cider or the Calvados, it meant I had some work to do on the recipe. The cider is used in the poolish/ pre-ferment and Calvados in the apple filling in the original recipe for this bread. Both obviously enhance the apple flavour in the bread. The cider in the poolish/ pre-ferment also adds a nice tang which is more apple flavoured than sourdough-ish in taste.
Apple cider can be either unsweetened and unfiltered apple juice, or a fermented alcoholic drink. In place of apple cider, I used a boiled down concentrate of unsweetened apple juice. I also added a little powdered cinnamon to the apple filling for the bread. I also did some research into shaping the bread as instructions weren’t very clear.
The picture from the original recipe suggests baking it as an oblong and decorating the top with slices of apple. So that’s what I tried the first time. Yes, I actually baked this twice because I was unhappy with my bread the first time. My oblong shaped loaf cracked wide open along its length on the top and the crust was soggy under the apple slices. The apple slices were chewy!
So I went back to the recipe, reworked it a bit. I shaped the bread into a sort of an oblong but slashed the dough and did without the apple slice decoration on top. It worked perfectly this time. Below is my adapted no-alcohol, no-cider version of the yeasted Normandy apple bread.
To make the apple juice concentrate for the polish below, start with 750 ml or about 3 cups of unsweetened apple juice. Bring the juice to a boil and then turn down the heat. Simmer the apple juice, stirring on and off, till it reduces to about one third in volume or 1 cup. Let it cool to room temperature. Then use this to make the poolish.
You can make the poolish first thing in the morning. Let it rest for about 4 hours at room temperature and then proceed to make the dough. Otherwise, make the poolish the previous night and refrigerate it overnight. The next morning, let it come to room temperature before mixing it into a dough.
Apples are in season in India right now. They don’t usually come labeled with names. I just know they’re crisp and juicy, grown somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas (somewhere in Himachal Pradesh). Use a variety that stays firm on cooking. You want to see chunks of apple in the bread and not have it turn into a mush.
This bread is pretty good by itself but pair it with some cheese and it gets even better. My Yeasted Apple Bread turned out slightly tangy in a good apple-y way. It also had a decent apple flavour. It ad a good crust too but it wasn’t flaky. This was probably because I didn’t stick to the original recipe and didn’t create steam in my oven as suggested.
The Bread Baking Babes are –