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Cider and Apple Bread

SERVES: 1 large loaf

PREP & COOKING TIME: Approx 4 hrs prep & rising time, approx 50 mins baking.

Ingredients:

400g strong white bread flour

100g strong wholemeal bread flour

10g fine sea salt

1 sachet (7g) fast-action dried yeast

350-375ml Crumpton Oaks Cider

150g apples (red or green but use firm eating apples)

1 tsp lemon juice

If you have a bread machine, use it to make the dough. If not, mix it with your hands in a bowl and knead it on a large board for 10 minutes

Method:

1) Add the flours to your bread machine or mixing bowl then add the salt and yeast, keeping them apart. Add most of the cider but reserve a little until you check whether it is needed. Tum on the bread machine to the dough cycle and leave for a few minutes, adding the remaining cider if needed to make a fairly soft dough. If mixing in a bowl, bring together into a rough dough and add the rest of the cider if you need to. It should be fairly soft but not wet. Allow the machine to mix than knead, or if making by hand, tip the dough onto a large board and knead by hand for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.

2) Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a clean plastic bag and leave in a warm place for an hour. The dough will double in size.

3) Meanwhile prepare the apples. Peel, core and dice them into pieces approx 1-1.5cm then toss in lemon juice.

4) After the dough has doubled, tip out onto the board and gently tease into a rough rectangular shape. Sprinkle over about half the apples then fold into 3, then repeat with the rest of the apples. They should be fairly well distributed. Place back into the oiled bowl and re-cover. Leave in a warm place for another 1-2 hours until doubled in volume.

5) Gently tip back out onto the floured board and shape into a ball. If any pieces of apple are sticking out, just poke them back into the dough. Wash and dry the bowl and dust it with flour then return the dough to the bowl with the seam side uppermost. Cover and leave to prove again. If you like, you can put the dough in the fridge overnight ready to bake in the moming, or leave in a warm place and it will be ready to bake in about an hour.

6) Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C conventional/ Gas 9. Place a large heavy oven dish such as a large cast iron casserole in the oven to heat up. If you don't have one, heat a heavy-duty baking tray instead.

7) Tip the dough out (upside down) onto a piece of baking paper, slash the top wfth a sharp knife and transfer to your heated casserole dish. Pop on the lid and bake for 30 minutes. If using a tray, put the loaf onto the tray and onto the middle shelf in the oven. Place another deep baking tray filled with boiling water below it or on the base of the oven. This will create steam and help the bread rise and go crusty.

8) After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 200°C fan/220°C conventional/ Gas 7 and bake for another 10-20 minutes or until dark golden (it will probably take longer in a casserole dish than on a tray). Remove from the oven and tap the base — if it sounds very hollow, the bread should be cooked. Leave to cool before slicing.

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