Yeast has always scared me a little, in an “IT’S ALIVE!” kind of way. This fall, I’m trying to tame the beast in yeast by baking up a storm. My kitchen is filled with little bowls of pizza dough and my bread maker is working overtime, kneading and rising challah dough. Brioche was the next logical frontier to conquer. Instead of making one big plain brioche, I baked individual brioche loaves with caramelized vanilla scented apple chunks.
With each yeast adventure, my comfort grows. These little brioche balls were buttery, sweet, and tender with a center of melt in your mouth sweet caramel apples. Sitting in the backyard with a hot cappuccino and the sun streaming through the leaves, they were a perfect breakfast treat. When the kids get home from school, they’ll also be a special pre-homework snack.
Did I mention that time is the primary reason why working with yeast scares me? Using a stand mixer to make the brioche dough took all the work out of this project, as I never have 20 minutes to knead sticky, buttery dough. Just make sure to set your stand mixer all the way back on the counter and leave it on low speed, or you may find it dancing closer and closer to the edge of the counter as it struggles to combine the butter, eggs and flour. Once the dough had the right consistency, I left it to rise for an hour on the counter, but was out of time for the day. The dough kept nicely in the fridge overnight until I had more free time to play.
These apple flavored brioche rolls are just the beginning. This dough is so versatile that it could easily go savory, filled with cheddar and pepperoni or pecans and roasted butternut squash. Just thinking about it is making me hungry. It’s time to grab a few more bowls and get more batches of dough rising. I’m well on my way to becoming a dough lady, surrounded by hordes of kids and stacks of living, breathing, growing bowls. At least my house will smell better than if I were a cat lady.
- For the brioche dough:
- 2¾ cups of all purpose flour
- ¼ cup of 2% milk
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons of salt
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 3 large eggs
- 10 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
- For the caramel apple center:
- 3 sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of salted butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder (or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract)
- For the final coating:
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 Tablespoons of heavy cream
- In a stand mixer, mix all the brioche dough ingredients. At first it will be a sticky mess, but have faith. After 20 minutes of kneading, you will have a gorgeous, shiny, buttery dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased covered bowl to rise for an hour.
- Once the dough has risen, put it in the fridge for at least an hour to make it easier to shape, or overnight if you lack time.
- Peel the apples and remove the core. Cut into chunks roughly 1 inch square.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the apples and the vanilla. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until apples are soft and caramel is bubbling. Remove from heat and set aside. This will keep in the fridge overnight as well.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
- Grease individual muffin tins.
- Fill each muffin hole with an inch and a half of dough. Press your fingers into the center of each brioche to push a well. Lay a heaping tablespoon of caramel apple mixture into each well.
- For each brioche, take another small ball of dough (about the size of a ping pong ball), flatten it in your palm, and stretch it out as thin as you can get it. Now lay it over the apple mixture and pinch the sides to cover completely. Repeat for each brioche.
- Finish by brushing the top of each brioche with an egg wash (1 egg yolk and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream).
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- These are delicious warm or cold.