So, Labor Day has come and gone, which I guess means that summer is almost over? I have very conflicted feelings about this.
On the one hand, I’m not ready to give up warm weather, fruity blended cocktails, or my cute summer dresses/sandals (layering for warmth is not my best look). On the other hand, I’m kinda looking forward to crisp fall mornings, steaming mugs of apple cider, and thick sweaters/fluffy socks.
Also, cabins with fire pits. And s’mores. And crunchy leaf piles. Did I already mention apple cider? Alright, fine – I’m not that conflicted about the end of summer. Fall in Virginia is pretty great!
You know what else is great about fall? Apples! Apple pies, baked apples, apple turnovers, apple cider, candy apples, apple brandy…give me all the apples! I’ve been seeing a ton of apple-themed recipes online lately, and my Good Old Fashioned Apple Pie post has suddenly been getting a lot of traffic again, so I know you guys feel me on this. Apples are at their best right now, and they should be enjoyed to the fullest, in all possible forms. I’ve mainly just been eating them plain, but I wanted to bake them into something.
What to make, what to make?
Cinnamon Apple Crunch Pie is always a hit in our house this time of year, and Apple Streusel muffins are tasty too, but…I just couldn’t muster the energy to make shortbread for the pie crust or whip up a batter for the muffins. Laziness, my arch-nemesis, we meet again.
BUT WAIT! There was still half a batch of brioche dough in the fridge! I had been planning to make more sticky buns for Dan with that dough, but my thighs don’t really need that kind of temptation lying around the house. And, fluffy sweet brioche would be perfect with tangy-sweet, spiced apple. Plus, Dan is a fiend for apple pastries, so I knew that if I made an apple-stuffed treat, he would inhale all of it in one sitting and there would be no danger of temptation for me.
The only question was…what should I make with the dough? Apple pie cinnamon rolls? Whole apples baked in brioche parcels? Or…perhaps, some kind of apple filled braided bread so that I could finally cross braided bread off my to-try list? Maybe with a nice sweet glaze on top? Mmmmm. Yes.
Great decision, all around. This glazed cinnamon apple braided bread was uh-mazing! Fluffy, soft, buttery brioche wrapped around juicy, tender, tangy-sweet apple chunks dusted with cinnamon, dripping with finger-lickin’ good glaze – it doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
If a cinnamon roll and a slice of apple pie got together and had little pastry babies, this is what they would be like.
Not long for this world.
If you want further proof of the deliciousness of this treat…the day after I made this, Dan and I hung out with some of my friends from work. I was telling them about this bread and promising to bring them some to taste (like I usually do if I bake on the weekend) when Dan leaned over and said very firmly: “nope, sorry guys – it’s all going to be gone by tomorrow; there will be nothing left for you to taste.”
And there wasn’t! So, yeah – you’re definitely going to want to give this recipe a try.
- ½ a batch of basic brioche dough
- 5-6 gala apples (or whichever you prefer - I like the tart sweetness of galas), peeled and cored
- 3 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 dash nutmeg
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (by taste)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp skim milk
- Cut your apples into small pieces.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine your apple bits, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Toss to coat each piece of apple with lemon juice and sugar/spice. Set bowl aside.
- Roll your dough out on floured surface, making a large rectangle (roughly 16x12 inches and ¼ inch thick).
- Carefully transfer your rectangle to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Position the dough so that a short side is facing you, then using the side of your hand, gently make indentations in the dough to "divide" it into 3 equal columns, lengthwise.
- Carefully cut away a small piece of dough from the four corners of your rectangle (see picture above), so that you essentially get short "flaps" of dough on the top and bottom of the triangle, and two long flaps on the sides. Then, carefully slice your long side "flaps" into 1-inch long strips, starting from the indents you made earlier with your hand, and moving outwards towards the edge. (You can slice at an upward angle like I did, or just straight across). Make sure there are an equal number of strips on both sides.
- Drain excess juices from your bowl of apple filling.
- Spoon filling into the center of your dough (see picture above), leaving the top and bottom flaps clear.
- Fold the top and bottom flaps over your filing.
- Then, fold one of your top most dough strips diagonally downwards across the filing. Do the same with the strip on the other side, alternately folding left and right strips like you're braiding. Once you get to the end, the last two strips can be folded over and tucked beneath the braid.
- Loosely cover your completely braided bread with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for about an hour in a warm/dry place.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake your bread for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on the pan.
- While your bread is cooling, make your glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and milk, and stir vigorously until you get a thick, opaque liquid.
- Drizzle this glaze generously over the top of your apple bread. (Feel free to leave some extra for dipping.)
- Slice, then enjoy!