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This is my take on a Victorian classic.  I’m not entirely sure where the use of apples in bread came from, but it may be to do with needing something sweet to grow the yeast.  Don’t be put off at the thought, the apple puree makes the bread moist but the apple flavour is not pronounced.  Try the great new flour range from Farm Direct for this lovely home-made bread.

 

350g cooking apples

2tsp dried active yeast

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

600g strong bread flour

100g grated cheese – something nice and full-bodied (I used Lyburn Gold)


 

1) Peel and core the apples, then chop them coarsely into a saucepan with about 4 tablespoons of water. Put the lid on and heat over a moderate heat until the apples begin to ‘fall’ (go mushy).  Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes, then beat furiously to a puree.  You don’t want lumps.


2) Transfer this puree to a bowl and add the sugar, stirring well.  When it is just warm to the touch, add the yeast, stir and leave for 30 minutes.


3) Mix in the flour, salt and 120ml warm water.  Add the grated cheese and mix to a rough dough.


4) Lightly oil your work surface and transfer the dough on to it, kneading well for about 5 minutes until it is nicely elastic.  Put it back in a clean bowl and cover with a damp tea towel.  At this point you need to leave it to rise.  Depending on your timing you can do this for a couple of hours in a warm place, or overnight in the fridge.


5) When the dough is doubled in size, turn it out onto the surface and give it another knead to knock the air out of it.  Tease the dough into a ball shape and put ona baking tray on top of the oven to prove. Heat your oven to 200 centigrade, 180 fan and let the dough rise up again to twice its volume.  No need to cover it, as letting it dry out a bit will give you a better crust.


6) Put a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven, then bake your loaf for 20-30 minutes until nicely brown and sounding hollow when you tap its bottom.  Put it on a wire rack to cool so that it doesn’t go soft underneath.


This is nice as it is, slathered in butter or cream cheese, but goes really well with a good soup!!


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