A turbulent week. Emotions rampant; head down, fingers scurrying across the keyboard. A very short blog post is called for. In between home improvement… well, home finishing… projects, taking extra time to snuggle Marty as the end nears and working on my various projects. Bits and pieces. My life, my emotions spread thin, bumping up and down, a commotion of sensations. My words come out in short gasps, my movements fluttering from one thought to the next as I gather them up and jot them down, painting words in black and white. Time is fleeting, rushing past like my nine-year-old self on a bike whizzing home, wind whipping my thick mess of hair out of my eyes for the first time all day, hurry hurry. Or time slows down to a trickle, as thick as molasses, as slow as my son preparing to execute any chore we have requested of him… one sock, first shoe, check text messages, tie shoe, stare off into space and dream for a while, second sock….
Apartment renovations continue in fits and bursts and our hallway is nearly finished. Ceiling lights purchased for the kitchen and even as boxes and now-empty suitcases gather round us like so many faithful, adoring disciples, we may soon be able to drag the truck-sized toolchests (in the plural), the various painting supplies, ladders and the rest of the home improvement paraphernalia up to the attic and give ourselves just that much more floor space. I slowly, painstakingly send out change-of-address notices as I slowly, carefully order my work here at the computer. The desolate rain bursts into glorious sunshine, winter leaving icy fingerprints on the windowpanes.
My projects old and new clutter my worktop and my life, I finalize stories and tap joyfully on the send button, waiting for the satisfying whoosh of email sent; writing mojo back in full swing. New ideas fill my head and take shape as I discuss the creation of this event or the writing of that piece with friends and mentors, pushing myself forward on a surge of activity and enterprise. I connect with those around me, hoping for newfound involvement in my city of Nantes. The bright clear days find me wandering through town, seeing hitherto unnoticed artwork, graffiti scrawled across unlikely spaces, new buildings perched above my line of vision in unexpected material, impulsive colors, in stunning juxtaposition to the graceful, elegant old beauties in fading cream and black, the architecture one expects in this place. My camera captures images, which cry out to be transformed into words.
And Marty. No words to describe the sadness in our hearts, the heaviness crawling through our home as we watch him, sadness and discomfort replacing mirth and curiosity in his eyes.
And I bake. A flurry of flour, a dusting of salt, a sprinkling of yeast; hands, fingers sinking into dense, soft dough, pushing, pulling, worries and frustrations released in the gentle, rhythmic movement, replaced with a utopian calm. My mind wanders to words, sentences, tales amid the fragrance of vanilla and sweet apples, redolent with the exotic nip of cinnamon, against the tang, the heady earthiness of the yeast. Warm from the oven, drizzled with sugary icing, the crunch of almonds and we sit together en tête-à-tête in the bright kitchen drinking coffee and eating sweet bread. No words are needed.
An apple-filled yeast coffee cake, this Apple Cinnamon Twist is added to November’s Twelve Loaves line up of fabulous recipes. Twelve Loaves is a baking-from-scratch event created by Lora of Cake Duchess, Barb of Creative Culinary and myself to inspire our fellow food bloggers to bake. November’s challenge was all about our favourite Autumn Fruits: Apples & Pears. I saw this fabulous twisted loaf on Kate’s blog Food Babbles and couldn’t resist! I made some slight changes to her recipe including changing her pears for apples and the results were incredible. The dough is fast and easy to put together, more time is spent waiting than fiddling with fussy ingredients – time spent writing or painting or hugging a Boston Terrier. Once filled, the dough is cut and twisted like for my Pesto Parmesan Russian Rosa Loaf, a joy to make once one gets the hang of it. Topped with a marvellous cinnamon glaze, this was one of the best sweet yeast coffee cakes I’ve made yet and worth making over and over again.
I am sharing this with Susan of Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting!
APPLE CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE TWIST
Adapted from a recipe on Food Babbles which was adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe
For the dough:
3 ½ cups (450-460 g) flour, stirred up and lightly spooned into measuring cup and levelled
3 Tbs (50 g) sugar
1 ½ tsp (6 g) active dry yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 Tbs (45 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla or orange extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) milk (I used half whole, half lowfat), warmed to tepid/skin temperature
For the filling:
½ cup (100 g) sugar (I used less)
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 medium apples, peeled and grated
1 Tbs lemon juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s/powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla or ½ tsp orange extract, optional
3 Tbs heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Prepare the dough:
Place all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir or whisk to blend. Add the soft butter, the warm milk, the room temperature egg and the vanilla and stir until blended, all the dry ingredients are moistened and a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, dusting with flour if needed. Any large chunks of butter left should be incorporated and the dough should be soft, elastic and light without being too sticky.
Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and turn the dough to make sure it is oiled all over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and the clean kitchen towel and let rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until the dough is doubled in size.
Make the filling:
Peel and grate the apples (I used the large holes of my grater), discarding the core. Toss the grated apples with the lemon juice.
Whisk together the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl to blend. Add the grated apples to the dry mixture and stir to blend well, making sure all of the dry ingredients are melted into the apples leaving no clumps. Cover and set aside.
Assemble the Twist:
Line a large baking sheet, long and wide enough to hold two long loaves, with parchment or oven-safe paper.
Gently deflate the risen dough by scraping it out of the mixing bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Using a large, sharp knife, divide the dough into two equal pieces, returning one temporarily to the bowl.
Roll half of the dough into an approximately 10 x 12-inch rectangle with the long side perpendicular to your body. Spread half of the apple filling evenly all over the dough rectangle, leaving a ½-inch edge empty on three sides – one long, two short – and 1-inch filling free across the top edge. Starting at the long end nearest your body, roll the dough up around the filling into a jellyroll or log and seal the edges. Gently roll back and forth to even out the thickness of the log.
Using a very long, sharp knife – a butcher’s knife works best – slice the log lengthwise in half. Gently lift each half onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and place them side by side, cut side up (the many layers of the “open cut” will be up). Keeping the filling side up and starting from the center, twist and twine the two lengths together as tightly as possible with squishing the dough and filling. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck underneath.
Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The loaves should be pretty much doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Bake the loaves for 30 – 40 minutes or until risen and golden brown. If the loaves seem to be browning too quickly, just cover lightly with foil. The finished bread should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before making and drizzling the cinnamon glaze.
Prepare the Cinnamon Glaze:
Measure then sift the confectioner’s sugar into a small mixing bowl with the cinnamon. Add the cream or milk, the extract if using, and, stir with a fork or small whisk until well blended, smooth and creamy. The glaze should be smooth and just liquid enough to ribbon off of a spoon to drizzle all over the bread but not so liquid that it runs together and off the bread.
Slice and enjoy!
Take a bigger bite ...