It looks impressive and might seem like difficult to make. But there’s nothing complex in the shaping of this bread. Besides, the handling of the yeast dough is always calming and nerve soothing experience.
About 10 servings.
For the dough:
- 2 tbsp warm water (105-115 F, not higher!)
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- Pinch of sugar
- ½ cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
For the filling:
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 6 medium size Golden Delicious apples, peeled. Cored, quartered, cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
Tip: I found the easiest way for me to prepare the apples: first, cut all the apples lengthwise in half, then core them using a melon baller, peel them keeping already peeled ones covered with a damp towel. Then quickly slice the apples while the pan is heating on the stove. This sequence really minimizes the browning of the apples.
- Zest of 1 large orange
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup finely ground ladyfingers or other cookie crumbs
- 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp water for egg wash
- ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- About 1 tbsp orange juice
- A drop of orange oil (optional but very nice addition)
Make the dough:
Place 2 tbsp of warm water and the pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Mix in the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the mixture bubbles and doubles in size, about 10-15 minutes (If you don’t see any activity in the bowl your yeast is probably dead and you should buy the fresh one rather than continue with the recipe)
Stir the milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over the medium-high heat just until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts (the mixture should be just warm). Scrape the mixture into a mixer’s bowl; cool to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in the yeast mixture, egg yolks, orange zest and spices. Add the flour; mix with a spoon until the dough comes together. Place the bowl onto the stand-mixer base and knead with a dough hook for 6 minutes (If you don’t have a mixer you can knead the dough by hand, it will take a bit longer, about 8-10 minutes). Place the dough in a clean large bowl lightly sprayed with oil, cover with oiled plastic wrap and put in a warm draft-free area (the preheated just for a moment and then turned off oven with the light on works very well).
Let the dough rise until almost doubled in volume, about 1 ½-2 hrs. After this you can proceed with the recipe or put the dough into the refrigerator till the next day to retard the fermentation. Slap the dough down in the bowl a couple of times until it stops rising. Let the dough sit on the counter for about an hour before starting rolling and shaping.
Make the filling:
Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over the medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar. Cook until a grainy sauce forms, about 1 minute. Mix in the apples. Cook until the apples are tender and the sauce is reduced to glaze, about 7-10 minutes, stirring often. Add the zest and spices. Cool the filling at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. Set the apples aside.
Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface; spray with the nonstick spray, lightly dust with the flour. Turn the dough out onto the foil. Roll out to 14×12-inch rectangle with a shorter edge paralleled to you. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs lengthwise in the middle of the rectangle in a 4-inch-wide strip, leaving ½ inch border at the top and bottom. Arrange the apples with any juices atop the crumbs (you might have a little extra apples left over but it’s better to have some extra than not enough; they are delicious, so eat them). Starting ½ inch from the each long side of the apple filling, cut the dough at a slight diagonal to the edge of the rectangle at 1-inch interval, making about 12-13 strips on each side. Fold the dough strips alternately and on a slight angle over the filling, forming the lattice. Seal the open ends of the dough.
Slide the foil with the cake onto a large baking sheet; trim a foil overhang. Cover the cake loosely with oil-sprayed plastic and let the dough rise in the warm place until light and puffy, about 1 hr.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Gently brush the cake with the egg wash. Bake the cake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Gently run a spatula under the cake to loosen from the foil. Cool for 30 minutes.
Mix the powdered sugar, 1 tbsp of the orange juice and orange oil (if using) to blend, adding more juice, one drop at a time if the glaze is too thick. Pour the glaze in a small plastic bag, snip the end and drizzle the glaze over the cake. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature.