Rye %: 91% Stages: Sponge, Final dough Leaven: Rye sour culture, Instant yeast Start to Finish: 17-21 hours Hands-on Time: 30-40 minutes Yield: Two 1¼ lb/575 gram loaves + two 2¾ oz/50g rolls During this year’s Rye Tour to Finland and Latvia, our guide in Helsinki, sourdough baker and baking book author Eliisa Kuusela, arranged […]
A popular recipe on our site is the Raspberry Brioche Braid, a pastry Zoe came up with to mimic a Danish braid without quite as much work. Since berries are now behind on us and we look forward to cold days and even colder nights, I decided to try my hand at an Apple version of Zoe’s creation. Since my children devoured the braid in moments I can assure you that is it in fact, quite delicious, and a perfect way to start a day, or end one.
Apple Brioche Braid
(For step-by-step instructions, check out our Instagram highlights!)
1 pound brioche dough made with Red Star Platinum Yeast (I’ve used the brioche dough from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and the Amish Milk Dough from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but you could also use Challah dough or one of the enriched doughs from our The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book or even Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Quick Apple Filling
2 cups grated Gala apple
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Cream Cheese Filling
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water) for topping braid
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
To make the jam: Place the grated apple, apple cider, sugar and salt into a pan and stir together. Simmer over a medium/low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often, until most the juice has cooked into the apples. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. (The mixture will still look very ‘grated’, but the apples will continue cooking as the bread bakes.)
To make the cream cheese filling: mix the cream cheese, zest and sugar in a bowl until smooth.
Take a one pound piece of dough from the dough bucket (weighing on a scale is the easiest way, but if you don’t have one, a grapefruit-sized piece will do) and roll the dough into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Make sure to use enough flour that the dough doesn’t stick to the surface or the rolling pin. TRANSFER THE ROLLED OUT DOUGH TO A SHEET OF PARCHMENT. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center of the dough, about 1 inch wide.
Top the cream cheese with about 1/2 cup of the apple filling. You can add more, but some may leak out of the braid as it is baking. There may be a little jam left over to serve with the baked braid.
Cut 1/2-inch thick strips of dough with a pastry or pizza cutter. (Try to get an even amount on both sides, but it’s okay if it doesn’t happen.)
Lightly twist the top two strips of dough, then cross them over the top of the filling. Do not pull the dough too thin or it may break as it rises and bakes. Continue that same routine of twisting the pieces and crossing them over each other on top of the filling, until you are at the bottom. If you find an odd piece of the dough, that doesn’t have a mate, just twist it and place it over the filling. When you get to the end, tuck the loose pieces under the loaf, so they are secure and won’t pop out when baking.
Place the braid and parchment onto a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic and allow to rest for about 1 1/2 hours.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Just before baking, brush the loaf gently with the egg wash.
Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes or until golden brown (I like to bake this braid on two layers of baking sheets, to keep the bottom from browning too quickly). Allow to cool before topping with the icing.
To make the icing: place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Combine the melted butter, water, brandy, and salt together, and pour it over the powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. It should come off a spoon in a thin drizzle.
Red Star Yeast sponsored this post, and provided yeast samples for recipe testing.
Hey, this is Jeff here, writing the intro to Sarah’s beautiful post, photos, and re-cap of our recipe for Crockpot Challah from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Challah’s become a familiar American bread, brought here by Jewish immigrants, and round ones like these are traditional on Jewish New Year, which starts Sunday night. In my family (and in Jewish bakeries), the Challah is studded with raisins or other sweet fruit, in the hopes of ringing in a sweet and happy new year. For today’s rather unconventional baking option–in the crockpot–Sarah decided to skip them, to help the crockpot succeed in baking the loaf all the way through. We’ve been putting crockpot options in our books ever since we did the second edition of our basic book (The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). The craziest part about crockpot baking for us: the crockpot version of our basic French round loaf (boule) was the most popular post ever on this website.
A NOTE ON FLOUR FOR CHALLAH: There’s just one difference between the challah dough in Holiday and Celebration in 5, and the original in The New Artisan Bread in 5, and that’s bread flour. Holiday and Celebration has recipes for some complicated shapes, and the bread flour option gives you a drier, firmer dough that’s a little easier to handle and shape. The original, made with the same amount of all-purpose flour works great in the crockpot too. And if you’re looking for whole grain challah, check out The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or even gluten-free challah, in Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Crock Pot Challah
Challah Dough (makes about 4 loaves)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon Red Star Platinum, Active Dry, or Quick-Rise yeast (1 packet)
1 tablespoons kosher salt (or other coarse salt)
4 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached bread flour (or all-purpose, see note above)
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, using a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle), a Danish, dough whisk, or a wooden spoon, until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours.
The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.
Three-Strand Challah Crock Pot Braid
On baking day: Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Dust each piece with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
Gently roll and stretch each dough ball, dusting with flour so your hands don’t stick to it, until you have a long rope about 3/4 inch thick, about 15 inches long. You may need to let the dough relax for 5 minutes so it won’t resist your efforts.
Lay the three ropes side by side and, starting from the middle of the loaf, pull the left strand (rope) over the center strand and lay it down; always pull the outer strands into the middle, never moving what becomes the center strand.
Now pull the right strand over the center strand. Continue, alternating outer strands, but always pulling into the center. When you get to the end, pinch the strands together.
Flip the challah over so that the loose strands fan away from you. Start braiding again by pulling an outside strand to the middle, but this time start with the right strand. Braid to the end again, and pinch the strands together.
Join the two ends to form a circle. Place the braid on a piece of parchment.
Lower the dough into a 4-quart crock pot. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use.
Turn the temperature to high and put on the cover. (Not all crock pots behave the same, so you should keep an eye on the loaf after about 45 minutes to make sure it is not over-browning on the bottom or not browning at all. You may need to adjust the time or temperature according to your machine.)
Bake for 1 hour. To check for doneness, it should feel firm when you gently poke the top of the loaf with your finger.
The bottom crust should be nice and caramel colored, but the top of the loaf will be quite soft and pale. Some folks desire a softer crust, so they’ll love this loaf. You can place the bread under the broiler for 5 minutes or until it is the color you like, with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Let the loaf cool completely before serving. This loaf, especially when baked in the crockpot, is sensitive to that–if you eat it warm, it may seem underbaked or gummy.
Happy New Year!
We’ve used Red Star Yeast in our recipes since we started writing our very first book in 2005 and trust that their products will ALWAYS get the job done with the highest quality (and rise) every time. We were super intrigued when they introduced the Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast. It’s the perfect entry into sourdough baking, if you don’t have the days to create a sour starter, nor the hours and hours to let each loaf rise. This yeast contains real sourdough starter, which is activated along with yeast, to create an instant loaf of real sourdough, without the wait. We are thrilled with the results and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who wants the sourdough without the wait. Here is our Brioche recipe from Holiday and Celebration Bread Book made with the Platinum Instant Sourdough. You can use this Super Fast Sourdough Brioche for anything you’d make with Brioche, but it has the extra depth of flavor you get from a sourdough starter. The strength of that flavor will increase as the dough rests and we found that the dough behaved best within the first 3 days of storing it in the refrigerator, after that we froze the dough to use later.
Super Fast Sourdough Brioche
1 1/2 cups (340g) lukewarm water
2 packets Platinum Instant Sourdough – they are larger than a typical yeast packet, because they include a real rye-based sourdough starter and instant yeast with natural enzymes that strengthen the dough so it will rise better.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, room temperature*
1/2 cup (170g) honey
1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, melted
7 cups (990g) all-purpose flour
Mix the Platinum Instant Sourdough yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, using a spoon, Danish Dough Whisk or Stand Mixer (with paddle attachmnet) until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. *Note: if you don’t use room temperature eggs and warm water, the initial rise can be very slow.
Refrigerate the dough for about 4 hours, before using. The dough can be used as soon as it is chilled. This dough is way too sticky to use after the initial rise, but once it is chilled it is very easy to handle. It can be used to create any brioche recipes: caramel sticky buns, Star Bread, Baked Ham and Cheese Brioche Sandwiches and fabulous doughnuts! The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. After that you can freeze the dough.
The Super Fast Sourdough Brioche can be used for any of the rich breads from our books, including this Chocolate Babka from our Holiday and Celebration Bread Book.