This Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread is absolutely bursting with fall flavor. It’s made with rich bread dough studded with chunks of fresh apples and swirled with brown sugar and cinnamon. Apple juice glaze is the perfect finish for this luscious bread.
Ah, autumn…crisp air, colorful leaves, cozy sweaters and, best of all, the aroma of apples and cinnamon. Sorry, other folks can have their pumpkin spice everything. I’ll take apples and cinnamon over pumpkin spice any day. I don’t care if it’s in a pie, cake, bread or applesauce, it’s simply a heavenly scent and flavor combination.
With my bounty of apples from our farm share, I was ready to create another apple treat. Can’t have too much of a good thing, right?
I’ve been on a bread kick lately, so Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread came immediately to mind. When I was developing this recipe I knew I wanted chunks of apple in the bread, not an apple sauce or apple puree, and I wanted lots of apples, not just a smattering. I also wanted a distinct swirl of cinnamon and brown sugar.
Macerating and then draining the apples prevents them from completely breaking down and loosing all their juice in the oven. You’ll save the juice to make the glaze for the top of the loaf.
The first time I tested the recipe I kneaded the chunks of apple into the dough, then rolled the cinnamon-sugar into the loaf. The problem was, with so many apple chunks the bread dough broke up a bit and many of the apple chunks migrated to the surface of the bread. It tasted good, but it was a bit messy and the apples on the outside of the loaf burnt in the oven.
For the second recipe test I used a technique that I developed a couple of years ago. This technique has come in handy whenever I want a bread or bun with two fillings and want to keep the fillings distinct. By layering the apples and cinnamon-sugar separately in the dough, each filling stays intact and the apple chunks are mostly contained in the dough.
This bread is just a big ol’ loaf of autumn deliciousness. It would be the perfect treat to make for a lazy weekend morning. If you want the bread for breakfast, you can put it together in the evening and bake first thing in the morning. See the recipe notes for working ahead.
I’ve got lots of leftovers in the freezer and can’t wait to try and make Apple Cinnamon Swirl french toast and Apple Cinnamon Swirl bread pudding mmmmm…..
- 1 cup (8 oz, 240 ml) whole milk, warmed to 120F
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz, 84g) unsalted butter, room temperature (plus more for pan prep)
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons, 7g) instant dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 cups (20 oz, 560g) all-purpose flour
- 3 large apples (1.5 lbs, 680g) peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
- 2/3 cup (5 oz, 140 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz, 224 grams) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1.5 cup (6 oz, g) confectioner's sugar
- reserved apple juice
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, combine the milk, butter, yeast, sugar, salt, cinnamon, eggs and 3 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.
- If working on a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. With the mixer running, add the remaining flour. The dough should gather on the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle a little more flour if necessary. If working by hand mix as much flour as you can with the spoon, then finish kneading in the rest of the flour by hand. Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead to a smooth ball. The dough should be soft and silky.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside to let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Toss the apple cubes with the granulated sugar and set aside to macerate for at least 1 hour (do this while the dough rises)
- Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Drain the apples, reserving the juice. Dump the apples onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to blot them dry. Generously butter two 8"x 4" loaf pans.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to a 16"x 16" square. Brush the surface of the dough with egg wash. Sprinkle the apple cubes over the lower half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the apples. Gently roll over the dough with a rolling pin or pat with your hands to embed the apples in the dough. You should now have a 8" x 16" rectangle of dough with the long side facing you.
- Divide the dough in 1/2 so you have two 8" x 8" squares of dough. Brush one piece of dough with egg wash and sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar over the dough. Tightly roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam together. Place the dough, seam side down, into one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Cover the pans with oiled plastic wrap and rise until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour (see note to work ahead).
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- To check if the dough is ready, poke the dough. If the dough springs right back it's not ready. If the dimple slowly fills in the dough is ready for the oven.
- Bake until the bread is golden brown and the internal temperature is 195F-200F, about 45 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.
- Combine the confectioner's sugar with enough of the reserved the apple juice to make an icing with the consistency of pancake batter.
- When the bread is still slightly warm, drizzle half the glaze over each loaf. Spread the glaze to cover the top of the bread.The glaze will set while the bread finishes cooling.
To work ahead, assemble the loaves and place them in the pans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Take the bread out in the morning and allow it to finish rising while the oven pre-heats.
If you want to freeze one or both of the loaves, wrap and freeze without the glaze. Defrost the loaf before glazing.
The bread keeps for several days at room temperature.
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