sourdough starter, fed
unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
apples, very large firm about 2 pounds
syrup, reserved from cooked apples
2 -3 tablespoons
sugar, coarse white
- Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, fairly soft dough.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and let it rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate it, and allow it to rise for another hour; it should have at least doubled in bulk, or come close to it. While the dough is rising, prepare the topping.
- For the topping: Core the unpeeled apples, and cut each into 8 wedges; an apple corer/slicer works well here. Cut each of the wedges into 3 pieces; you'll have 7 to 7 1/2 cups (about 27 ounces) of apple chunks.
- Put the chunks in a shallow microwave-safe bowl, and drizzle with the boiled cider and maple syrup. Don't have boiled cider or maple syrup? Drizzle with 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup agave syrup, or the sweetener of your choice.
- Microwave the apples till they've softened, but still hold their shape. In our microwave here, that took about 9 minutes.
- Drain the apples, reserving the juice. Set them aside to cool while the dough is rising.
- Lightly spay with cooking spray a 18" x 13" rimmed baking sheet (half-sheet pan), or two 9" x 13" pans. Drizzle olive oil atop the spray; the spray keeps the bread from sticking, while the olive oil gives the bottom crust great crunch and flavor.
- Gently deflate the risen dough, then pull and shape the dough into a rough rectangle, and place it in the pan. (Or divide it in half, and put in the two smaller pans.) Pat and stretch to fill the bottom of the pan. The dough will shrink back; as soon as it doe, cover it and walk away for 10 to 15 minutes. Return, and pat it towards the edges of the pan again. You may have to give it another rest; that's OK. Your ultimate goal is to stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, with perhaps just the very corners uncovered.
- Arrange the apple chunks atop the dough.
- Mix 1/4 cup of the reserved syrup with 1/4 cup Baker's Cinnamon Filling or 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar. The Baker's Cinnamon Filling will yield a richer, creamier topping. Drizzle the syrup over the apples.
- Cover the bread, and let it rise for 1 hour, till it's nice and puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F
- Uncover the bread, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, till the crust is golden brown around the edges and feels set in the center. Remove it from the oven, turn it out onto a rack, and serve warm.