3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/43 degrees C)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour (unbleached all-pupose flour may be substituted for the bread flour, if needed)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons clear honey
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or instant yeast
1/2 cup diced dried apples* (see notes below) or 1/2 cup fresh diced apples
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
You will need 1 large or 2 medium size baking sheets if making 2 smaller loaves (or one very large baking sheet will work also).
Dried diced apples may be purchased online at The Prepared Pantry in a 6.5 ounce (2 1/2 cups) package. Their web address is: http://www.preparedpantry.com.
1. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper one or two baking sheets.
2. Add warm water, egg, butter (or margarine or vegetable oil, if using), salt, flour, sugar, honey, and yeast to bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select the Dough Cycle of your machine. Start the cycle.
3. When dough cycle is complete, remove dough from machine to a lightly floured work surface. Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes. If necessary, knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Knead in diced apples.
4. Making 1 loaf:
If making one (1 1/2-pound) loaf, divide dough into 3 equal size pieces and roll each piece into 20-inch long rope. Place ropes on prepared baking sheet. Braid by bringing left rope under center rope; lay it down. Bring right rope under new center rope; lay it down. Repeat braiding to the end of loaf. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under dough.
Making 2 smaller loaves:
If making two (3/4 pound) smaller loaves, divide dough in half. For each loaf, divide dough into 3 equal size pieces and roll each piece into a 12-inch long rope (you will have 6 ropes if making 2 smaller loaves). Place ropes on prepared baking sheets. Braid by bringing left rope under center rope; lay it down. Bring right rope under new center rope; lay it down. Repeat braiding to the end of loaf. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under dough. Repeat braiding with remaining 3 ropes for second loaf.
5. Egg Wash:
Lightly beat egg yolks with water. Brush loaf (s) with half of the egg wash, saving the remaining egg wash to brush loaf (s) again before baking. Cover with plastic wrap and place a smooth cotton kitchen towel over plastic wrap and let loaf (s) rise in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, 45 to 50 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.
Brush loaf (s) with the remaining egg wash, REDUCE oven temperature to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until done (bread is done if it registers 190 degrees F/87 degrees C with instant-read thermometer). Remove bread from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack (about 2 hours).
Cover bread with aluminum foil after 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning (for even browning when baking two loaves, switch positions of sheets halfway through baking).
Bread may be frozen once cooled completely (2 hours). Wrap in aluminum foil, then place bread in a ziploc bag. Label and date. Bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.
Makes 1 (1 1/2-pound) loaf or 2 small (3/4 pound) loaves.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2006
Date: September 22, 2006