Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

December 8, 2012

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I know, I know. We’re getting close to the Christmas season and this Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread does have more of a Fall vibe to it, what with the apples and all. At least that is what you might think until you taste it. Then you will come to the realization that I did. This bread is so addictively delicious that it is appropriate, no…perhaps even required, any season of the year! Pull just one of the gooey, cinnamony, caramely, appley slices off  while it’s still warm from the oven and take a bite. You’ll see. It’s like one of those decadent cinnamon rolls, ‘cept better! And believe me, you won’t be able to stop with just one of the slices. No sir-ee. Before you know it, you’ll look down and find the loaf half gone and notice your britches seem to have suddenly shrunk as the top button pops off and shoots across the room. (I hear that fabric does tend to shrink when it gets colder.)

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It looks as though this recipe might be hard to make, what with all the steps, but it really comes together very easily. You don’t even have to worry about how you throw the cut dough pieces into the pan either. The bread is supposed to have that jumbled, rustic appearance. Not to mention, the basic Pull-Apart Bread of this recipe can be customized as well. Theresa at Craving Chronicles made a Peach Cinnamon & Brown Butter version. While Tracey at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures baked up a Cinnamon Sugar loaf. Get creative and come up with your own version. But you’ve gotta make this bread. And soon! You won’t be sorry!

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Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread

recipe from: Alaska from Scratch

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1/4 cup or more, if needed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For the Apple Filling:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and diced

For the Caramel Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Directions:

To the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine warm water and yeast. Let sit for 5-8 minutes until foamy.

In a microwave-safe dish, heat milk and butter together until butter is just melted. Add vanilla to the mixture and set aside.

Add flour, sugar and salt on top of the yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Turn mixer on low and add eggs, one at a time, until combined. Slowly stream the milk/butter/vanilla mixture into the bowl until a soft dough forms. Add extra flour by the tablespoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Turn mixer up to medium and knead the dough for 3 minutes. Remove dough from mixer bowl and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. Peel, core and dice the apple. Melt butter just before the dough has completed its rise. Grease a standard 9×5″ loaf pan.

Once risen, punch down dough, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll dough out into a large rectangle (roughly 12×24 inches). Dough will be fairly thin. Brush melted butter over top of dough. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 6 equal strips. Sprinkle about 1/6 of diced apples over one strip of dough, then stack another strip of dough on top. Repeat adding the apple mixture and stacking dough strips with remaining dough. Cut stacked strips into 6 equal stacks of squares. Stuff stacked squares vertically into prepared 9×5 loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat over to 350ºF. Bake about 35-45 minutes, or until no longer doughy in the center (bread should register 190ºF on an instant thermometer in the center when done). If bread starts to get too brown before it’s ready, cover loosely with foil and continue baking.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by adding the butter, brown sugar and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Turn loaf out onto a rack with parchment paper under it. Drizzle load with the warm caramel glaze.

Enjoy!

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Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Da!

December 6, 2012

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So would you believe me if I told you I had caught yet another vile cold straight from the pit of Hell? I must admit, I almost don’t believe me, but right after I posted my last blog about how sick I’d been, Wham-O…I was afflicted with yet some new virus. Luckily I was able to kick that one sufficiently to make it to my Mom and Da’s big day. Back in 1962 they got hitched! 50 years together! You don’t hear of that much any more these days.

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For the celebration, my self, my brother, sister-in-law and husband took them to the Inn at Little Washington. Located about 2 hours from Washington DC in the scenic little town of Washington, Virginia, The Inn is a 5 star restaurant which is ranked as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World. I’ve been hearing amazing things about it as long for as I’ve lived around here and always wanted to go, so I was very happy we could take our parents here to commemorate this special occasion.

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The Inn At Little Washington

Though I must admit, with all the rave reviews folks were giving the place, I was a bit nervous it might not live up to all of the hype. As it turns out, there wasn’t any need for me to worry whatsoever. The Inn not only met, but quite simply exceeded all of my expectations. The entire staff from the valets on were warm, friendly and made you feel welcome.

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The whole gang at the Inn

The service was incredible! It was as if you were dining in the finest French establishment, but without any stuffy attitude or pretension. There was a wonderful attention to detail. We were all quite pleased to see “Happy Anniversary to Russell and Joan” printed across the top of our menus. The decor was romantic and whimsical. Oh, and let me tell you about the food. Phenomenal! Without a doubt it was the best meal I’ve ever had! Chef Patrick O’Connell is amazing. His focus on using locally grown and organic ingredients and long predates the recent farm to table movement. He is so proud of all of the neighbouring farms from which he sources the outstanding ingredients that he features in his superb dishes that he notes them on the menu. Chef O’Connell’s creations not only look spectacular but you just can’t believe how incredible they taste. After eating our first amuse bouche, which was pork belly, my husband, who grew up in Southern Virginia said, “I’ve eaten a lot of pork belly in my life, but none of it can compare to that! It’s almost as if it were a different animal!”

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Pork Belly Amuse Bouche

Our second amuse bouche was called a Shot of Liquid Autumn. It was a shot of butternut squash and apple soup served with a Gruyère puff pastry.

Liquid Autumn

Liquid Autumn

Unbelievable! It really was like drinking in Fall. I could go on and on about this sublime dining experience! But I will simply show you the pictures of these exquisite dishes and tell you that the taste of each decadent offering far exceeded anything you can imagine.

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Selection of delicious breads and a delightful amuse bouche

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse -Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Lemon-Lime Lobster Largesse-Chilled Maine Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Citrus-Sake Gelee

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

First Course: Carpaccio of Herb Crusted Baby Lamb with Caesar Salad Ice Cream

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops Sauteed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops sautéed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Aged Gouda Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Second Course: Grilled Breast of young Pigeon Marinated in Blueberry Vinegar on a Zucchini Crepe

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main course: Blackened Tenderloin of Beef with Bone Marrow Custard, Caramelized Fennel and Fennel Puree

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with Tomato Butter, Garden Spinach and Garlic Custard

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Main Course: Juniper Crusted Venison Loin on a Tangle of Tart Greens with Caramelized Endive and Mustard Spatzle

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Desserts: Lemon Curd Tart

Although this indulgent meal was a bit of a splurge, it was worth every penny and was the perfect way to celebrate a 50th Anniversary!

The Happy Couple!

The Happy Couple!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Middleton Inn, as it was a big part of what made this Anniversary celebration so special. When we made our dinner reservations, there were no rooms available at the Inn. (Seems apropos around Christmas, no?) Luckily I knew of a beautiful B&B, The Middleton Inn, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Inn at Little Washington.

Middleton Inn

Middleton Inn

They had rooms available, so my Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister-in-Law all stayed in the Main House. My husband and I stayed in the cozy Guest Cottage and were thus able to bring our dog along with us.

The Guest Cottage

The Guest Cottage

Our stay in this historic, elegant country Inn was utterly fantastic! The house sits up on a hill and commands gorgeous views of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from the front porch

View from the front porch

The proprietor, Mary Ann, was very warm and friendly and  just embodied hospitality. She truly went above and beyond to make this weekend special for us. My parents found a complementary bottle of chilled Champagne awaiting them when they checked in to their room.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Because our dinner reservations were earlier, she set out some complementary wine and cheese for us to enjoy a bit ahead of the usual schedule. And she even went as far as to leave a little gift package for our pup, complete with two chew toys and bag of  chicken griller treats!

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

Gimlet guarding one of his new toys

And then there was breakfast. After our indulgence at the Inn the night before, you’d think it would take a lot to get our attention. Well, that is just what we got! Breakfast was just delicious.  Light and fluffy Cherry Scones right out of the oven, fresh fruit and an amazing Italian Eggs Benedict.

The breakfast crowd

The breakfast crowd

A stellar breakfast!

A stellar breakfast!

Further culinary bliss in a weekend that already held so much! What can I say, if you’ve never considered splashing out at the Inn at Little Washington, start making plans. If you have, but haven’t acted yet, do so NOW! Life is too short. Everyone should experience this culinary nirvana at least once! And Happy 50th Anniversary to my wonderful parents! May they see many more!

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