And every time I see such splendid pictures and recipes, I immediately begin coveting my neighbor's bread. But coveting is an empty pursuit. So, when I awoke at 5 a.m. this morning, I knew what I must do.
I have been eyeing a recipe in a little cookbook by Marilyn Barbe entitled Great Bread Everytime. SweetiPi bought this book on Ebay for me a year or so ago, and I've read it many times, but I have this ridiculous fear of trying anything that looks too fancy. I read and reread the directions a dozen times, and with trepidation, brought out my mixing bowl and my ingredients.
All I can say now, is Silly Me. As with all yeast breads, this takes time and some additional prep work because of the filling, but it's very doable. This bread is almost fluffy in texture (because of the eggs, I presume) and not too sweet. The best part is that the twist makes an eye-opening presentation!
Apple Raisin Twist
In a one cup measuring cup, heat 1/2 cup of warm water (110-115 F). Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, but do not stir. Slowly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of yeast into the water, making sure that each particle gets wet, but do not stir. (I just dipped my knife in and out of the water several times.) Wait 10 minutes until the yeast is thick and foamy.
While you are waiting, in a separate, large bowl add 1/2 cup warm milk (previously scalded and then cooled), 4 eggs, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, the yeast, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cooled melted butter. Stir well.
Add an additional 3 1/2 cups flour, one cup at a time to make a soft, but not sticky dough. (You make need more or less flour depending on humidity or moisture in the flour.) Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Place the dough into a grassed bowl, turn to grease the top, and set the bowl in a warm, draft-free area until double in size, about 90 minutes. (You can speed rising time by putting over a pan of warm water and covering the top with plastic wrap.)
After the dough has risen, punch it down and turn out again onto a clean, lightly floured work surface.
Now here you're going to have to make a decision. You can make one or two loaves (I made two.) If you want to make two, divide the dough equally in half, and one at a time, roll into an 8" x 12" rectangle. For one loaf, roll the dough in a 12" x 20" rectangle.
Roll the dough up jelly roll style, tucking in the ends, and pinching the seam together. Place on a greased baking sheet, (I use parchment paper) seam side down. For two loaves, use two pans.
Cut the roll in half, lengthwise. Slightly twist the halves so the filling is facing you, and twist the two halves together, alternating one side over the other, ensuring sure that the filling is always face up. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
Pinch bottom ends together. Bake at 350F. For one loaf, bake 40-45 minutes. For two loaves, bake for 30 minutes.
After the first twenty minutes of baking, remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil to prevent the raisins from burning. When baked, remove immediately to a wire rack to cool. Glaze with icing while twists are still hot.
For a simple glaze, combine 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until well combined and drizzle using a fork or whisk to get the nice thin ribbons of glaze.