Saturday, November 12, 2011
English Muffins & Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread
I didn't do any baking out of Jeffrey Hamelman's book, Bread, this past week, but I did have some fun playing with a new toy in the kitchen followed by a sweet bread experiment . I made my first ever English Muffins along with a Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread.
I bought my English Muffin rings at least a month ago, but hadn't tried them out yet. There sure are a lot of different muffin recipes and methods of baking them out there, and it was tough deciding which one I was going to start with. Several recipes I saw told you to just use biscuit cutters to cut out your english muffin 'dough' and then bake in the oven or cook them in a skillet. Well, I knew I wanted to use my bright, shiny new English Muffin rings, and to me English Muffins should be made in the skillet on the stovetop, not in the oven like dinner biscuits.
I settled on trying Peter Reinhart's recipe for English Muffins from his book, Artisan Breads Every Day. The muffin dough for this recipe is mixed up the night before and tucked into the fridge for the night. The next day, after bringing the dough up to room temperature, and adding a little baking soda/water mixture, you're ready to begin!
The recipe made 8 muffins for me and I could only fit 2 muffin rings comfortably into the skillet at a time, since I only have a little 8 inch cast iron skillet. I made four little batches of muffins with each getting better as I went along. I used too much batter in the first couple I think, because as they cooked on the first side for 12 minutes, the batter climbed above the top of the rings. I also tried to flip them too early and the batter was still wet on the top. Oops! Even though I tried to flip carefully, the runny batter on top glopped out into unwanted places, before being completely flipped. So on future batches I put less batter in the rings, and made sure the top was dry before flipping to cook on the other side :)
I used three of the finished muffins for Tuna Melts for dinner that night. Mmmmm were they good! I had been having a craving for tuna melts for quite some time, but didn't want to buy muffins from the store. It was well worth the wait. I even splurged and went for the more expensive Cabot Sharp Cheddar cheese for the tops of my tuna melts. I'm sure I'll experiment with some other recipes, but for my first muffins, Peter Reinhart's muffins turned out to be pretty darned good!
My husband and I have been meeting at someone's home the past several months for a small group bible study, and it dawned on me this past week that I could use this opportunity to make some sweet breads that I normally wouldn't try, because they make more than my husband and I can eat, plus who needs the extra calories/sweets sitting around the house.
So I chose to try this Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread recipe that I found at the King Arthur Flour website. The recipe didn't call for anything too exotic or expensive and the only ingredient I needed to buy was the two Fuji apples that I used in the filling.
This Cinnamon Apple Twist bread was indescribably wonderful! It was pillowy soft and tender inside and just pleasantly crisp and sweet from the apples and scant amount of glaze that I drizzled over top. The Vietnamese Cinnamon in the filling was heavenly, and the grated apples that dotted the surface were moist and still a little juicy. However, this bread did prove to be a little tricky to put together. Actually the recipe made two twists, but the first one of mine, kind of ended up in the trash :(
The problem I had was that my filling was too juicy. I'm not sure if the problem was that I used the flour for my thickener or the fact that I used more grated apple than called for or both. When I went to roll up the dough into a log for the first braid and then went to slice it vertically along the length of the log, juices came pouring out everywhere and it was a mess!! So I, sadly, decided to place that one in the trash and try again. On my second try I used a slotted spoon to place the filling on my dough, so that I wouldn't get too much of the juice. This time worked a little better, although I still had some juices to deal with, but I managed to get the log rolled and pinched shut, and then sliced and braided.
This bread was so good, that despite my difficulties, I'm pretty sure I'll be making this again sometime. I'm definitely not as comfortable working with sweet doughs and rolling them up into logs with filling so I'll need to improve on my techniques. The braid was devoured in a very short time, with only two small end pieces left, so I think it was a hit with the group.
So if you're looking for a sweet bread featuring apples that's not too sweet, but delicious, look no farther. This is a great recipe!