I opened our windows and invited the cool fall air to come in and revive our space. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and haphazardly rushed to bed, as if not to project my own suggestions for renewal. When I woke I had the feeling the air rushed straight to the kitchen and danced around our worn out table before sneaking through my bedroom door, into the lungs of this eager taker. I woke to find enough time in my kitchen and novel colors in my lungs.
My feet stood bare, wishing for socks (nothing more), as I washed the apples from our orchard adventure the day before. I spent time at my sink washing the skins I would soon peel and acknowledged the familiar scene and sturdy structure. I ackowledged a year to the day in this very same home. It may seem rather small, but in the history of my marriage, or maybe even my whole life, fall has been synonamous with moves. Too many moves. But this year that habitual rhythm that once made my bones weary and my heart tired, is something of the past. I've spent a year building something I am proud of and this time no one or no thing is asking me to excavate. I am here to stay. At least for now.
We signed another years lease and I exhaled deep and wide, letting the memory ridden air reach into the very tips of my toes, and then I turned our apartment upside down, as if our history begged to repeat itself in one fashion or another. I decluttered and simplified, an act that I've perfected, a ritual that has become almost instinctual after years of packing and unpacking. I made space to flourish rather than space to leave.
It feels like there is time and space to settle into something stable and secure, and with that has come a freedom or better yet, an invitation to cultivate and create. Not something new, something familiar, yet untouched. Something I once coveted and longed for, something that can only come from rooted rhythms and adequate time. To stay, to nest, to root, it lights a fire and stirs up an undiscovered space inside my bones. This fall I am not leaving and letting go, I am diving deep, exploring wide.
Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread
Inspired by Joy the Baker
2 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. water
2 eggs, room temperature
2 honey crisp apples, peeled + thinly sliced
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter, softened
Pinch of sea salt
Mix together 2 c. flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a stand mixer and set aside.
Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Pour in milk and stir until hot to the touch, but just before it starts to boil. Add room temperature water and stir. Temperature should now be warm, at a comfortable coffee or tea temperature.
Fit the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer.
Slowly pour liquids over dry ingredients while mixing on low speed. Once thoroughly combined, add eggs and mix on medium until all ingredients are incorporated.
Slowly pour the remaining 3/4 c. of flour over the dough while it is mixing. The dough should be softy and pliable but not stick to the sides of the bowl. There may still be some dough sticking to the very bottom, this is fine. I have found it's better to have dough slightly tacky, rather than too stiff.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and spend a few minutes kneading it into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place. Let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
While dough is rising mix ingredients together for the filling and set aside. Make sure your butter is softened and spreadable.
Remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Rather than punching down or messing with it too much, I have found it's best to take your rolling pin and start rolling it out from the risen ball. Roll out into a large rectangle a little bit larger than a baking sheet, or better yet, as large as you can get.
Spread softened butter across the entire surface of the dough. Next sprinkle filing across the entire surface of the dough. Finally spread peeled, sliced apples across the entire surface of the dough.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 6 even vertical strips. This can seem a little tricky and messy with the apples but the presentation here will not affect the finally look or taste of the baked bread.
Now stack one on top of the other until all six strips are stacked high. Don't worry about the apples that go astray, just find places to tuck them back into the dough once you are all through cutting. Now cut the stack in the opposite direction and make 6 even squares. You should now have 6 stacks of six squares.
Grease your loaf pan before placing all the squares side my side into the pan, like a flip book. It will feel like a tight squeeze but this is the point. Slip any apples that fell out, back in between the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour. Half way through the rise time, preheat your oven to 350.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. The tops of the loaf will start to look very golden brown but you need to make sure the dough is cooked all the way through the middle. You may need to keep baking it even though the top of the bread appears fully baked.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from pan. Pull apart and enjoy!