Friday, February 4, 2011

Normandy Apple Bread

This bread was a very pleasant surprise. Frankly, I didn't have very high expectations for this. But I was definitely surprised.

The loaf is straightforward to make. You start with a simple levain the night before. If you are following the recipe closely, you need to plan time to dry the apples. I made one loaf with dried apples per Hamelman's instructions and a second loaf where I used "Sun Maid", a commercially dried apples. For the home dried apples, I peeled and thinly sliced Jonagold apples, put them on a wire rack above a sheet pan, and baked them at 250 degrees for about an hour. If drying your own apples, be sure to plan ahead. The recipe calls for cider but doesn't explicitly specify fresh or hard cider. (The reference to cider that has gone slightly off seems to imply fresh.) I used fresh in both loaves, but it would be interesting to repeat the process with hard cider.

The baking loaves had a lovely apple aroma while baking. Again, it was necessary to shorten the cooking time. Hamelman calls for 40 minutes at 450 degrees followed by another 15 minutes at 420 degrees. My loaves were at 205 degrees after 35 minutes. In both loaves there were voids around the apples. This is clearly shown in the second picture.

This is a great bread with the apple adding a nice tartness. While I slightly prefer the home dried apples, if all I had were commercially dried apples, I wouldn't let this keep me from making the bread. This really isn't a sandwich bread or a sweet bread. But I find it very pleasant to slice and eat out of hand. I think it would make a nice toast served with apple butter. Another great bread.

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