Braided Apple Danish Loaf
Do you ever pass bakery windows and marvel at the gorgeous loaves of bread and impeccably crafted pastries? Great news: We have a recipe that fits the bill for both. This simple braiding technique will make you look like a pro, even though it’s easy enough to do with your eyes closed. But appearances aren’t everything--the flavor is what takes this apple Danish loaf to the next level.
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup water
4¼ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) softened butter
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Apricot jam or jelly, for glazing
1. Make the Dough: Warm the milk and water over medium heat until lukewarm to the touch (about 90° to 95°). In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour with the yeast to combine.
2. Add the salt, sugar, eggs and the warm milk mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together, 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is smooth, 3 minutes more.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and mix until it is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Continue adding the butter gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter is added. The dough should be smooth, though it will be very sticky.
4. Lightly grease a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight.
5. An hour before you’re ready to bake the bread, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature.
6. Make the Filling: by mixing the apples with the lemon juice, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine.
7. To braid the bread, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a ¾-inch-thick rectangle. Mound the apple filling in a line down the center of the dough, working from top to bottom.
8. Using a knife, cut ½-inch strips horizontally along both sides of the dough toward the filling (you should have about 18 to 20 strips on each side; these will be your braiding strands). Fold one of the strips of dough in toward the center, then repeat on the opposite side, crossing the strips in the center to make an X (see Finishing Touches below for a visual). Repeat all the way down the loaf.
9. Preheat the oven to 350°. Transfer the loaf to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let it rise while the oven preheats. Bake the loaf until the surface is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Brush the finished loaf with apricot jam. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.