These mini-braided breads make perfect gifts or a lovely addition to brunch.
I know it’s late in the season for an apple cider recipe, but my ALDI is still carrying it. I am not a big fan of apple juice, but I love apple cider and cider-flavored goods. I combined a few recipes to come up with this beautiful bread that makes a fantastic gift.
I doubled this recipe and had little loaves to give out to my daughter’s supplemental class teachers last week. Homemade bread doesn’t take that much effort, but seems extra special when it is such an anomaly in our culture.
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced finely (optional)
In the bowl for your mixer, stir together warm water, yeast, and honey. Let sit for 10 minutes to proof and become bubbly.
Add apple cider, salt, and sugar and stir.
With mixer on knead setting and using a dough hook, gradually add flour about 1/2-cup at a time. When all is incorporated, also add apple pieces if using. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic; it may still be somewhat sticky, which is fine.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
(You can also make dough in your bread machine on a dough setting.)
After this first rise, divide dough in half. Separate the half into three balls, then roll each ball out into a "snake" about 14 inches long. The strands will shrink; that is fine. Press the strands together at one end, then braid just as if you were braiding hair. Press together and fold under on the other end, then transfer braid to a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Repeat process with second half of dough.
Cover with towels again and let rise for a half-hour.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Remove towels. Brush loaves with milk and then sprinkle with turbanado (raw) sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.
You can also make this as one larger loaf. Adjust cooking time as necessary.