Contrary to your worst nightmares, I’m alive–Quite alive and even healthy, as a matter of fact.
I could try to come up with a whole bunch of good excuses for the lack of posting in the last few weeks, but I can’t think of any. I just needed a break. Sometimes cooking without having to worry about writing down every minute amount of salt (or flour or potato, or anything, really) is so so so refreshing.
In fact, one of my favorite ways to cook is to haphazardly dump and pour a bunch of ingredients together and hope for the best. It’s definitely a scary approach to tonight’s dinner; but to me, it’s exhilarating. (Of course, if you’re feeling tired and frustrated, you’re not just dumping and pouring anything, you’re going after sugar, flour, oil, and more sugar, and cinnamon, and stuff like that.)
Don’t worry, though. I didn’t just dump and pour my way to drool-worthy caramel apple pull-apart bread. This time, there’s a recipe, so you can make it too. The good news? This bread is going to make you feel just as exhilarated as I feel after dumping and pouring a meal together–but without the scary part.
When I was a kid, my parents wanted us to really enjoy Sabbath. (In case you’re wondering, I was raised as and still strive to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. Basically, we are Bible-believing Christians who worship God on Saturdays, according to the 4th Commandment.) Because church isn’t always a kid’s idea of a great time, Mom and Dad tried to find ways to make Sabbath special for us. We went on hikes in the woods, played Bible games, and went to special kids’ meetings at church.
All of these activities were great and all, but for some reason, one of my favorite memories of childhood Sabbaths are Sabbath breakfasts. Every Sabbath morning, Dad pulled out the “Sabbath Cereal,” which usually consisted of Honey-nut Cheerios (as opposed to the usual regular Cheerios), Very Berry Kix, or some other type of sweet-but-not-gonna-make-your-kid-hyper-for-church type of cereal.
We got to splurge. And it was wonderful.
Saturday/Sabbath is almost here, but trust me on this one: You don’t have to have been raised a Seventh-day Adventist to enjoy this kind of Sabbath splurge.
Just look at that caramel sauce dripping off of the bread. We’re not even going to mention the fact that this bread tastes like homemade cinnamon rolls on steroids.
Drip. This is the picture that makes me want to run to the kitchen right now and eat a whole pan of this stuff.
Eat your salad another time. Today, enjoy the gift of vegan comfort food and rest in God’s gift of the Sabbath.
Vegan Caramel Apple Pull-Apart Bread
For the Bread:
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/3 cup soymilk or almond milk, sweetened or unsweetened
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch I use organic.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar or cane juice crystals
- 2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter (softened)
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 large apple peeled, cored, and diced. Use Golden Delicious or Granny Smith.
For the Coconut Caramel:
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream the solid part in a can of full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 tablespoon vegan butter
- 3 1/2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice crystals or granulated sugar
- 3/4 – 1 teaspoons molasses depends on how dark you want your sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a microwave-safe container, melt your soymilk and margarine together in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds. Test the temperature of your melted margarine/soymilk mixture with your finger and make sure that it is only lukewarm, so you don’t kill your yeast.
- Combine your margarine/soymilk mixture with lukewarm water and active yeast and give it a whisk. Let the yeast mixture sit for about 5 minutes to make sure that the yeast starts to get slightly frothy.
- Now, whisk in salt, vanilla, cornstarch, and sugar.
- Finally, add your flour, and gently knead everything together for 2-3 minutes until a sticky dough forms. Because most amateur bakers (including me) don’t use kitchen scales for flour measurements, there is always the chance that your flour will settle more or less and you will need to add either a few teaspoons of water or flour to make the dough just right. For this dough, you want it just a little more moist and sticky than regular bread dough.
- Now, place your dough back in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 60 minutes. I like to turn my oven up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 minute, then turn it off. This makes a perfectly warm environment for my dough to rise–just make sure your oven is turned OFF before putting your dough inside. :)
- Remove your dough from the mixing bowl and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to form a 12 inch by 22 inch rectangle.
- In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients: softened vegan butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and finely diced apple. Now, spread this mixture all over your dough–all the way out to the edges.
- Spread filling onto your rolled out dough, as described in the filling recipe below.
- Now, using a pizza cutter, cut your dough lengthwise into 4 strips.
- Stack those strips on top of each other for form one long stack of strips. (It’s going to be messy. Many apple pieces will fall off, just put them back in when you’re done.)
- Using a sharp serrated knife, slice 6 equal square-shaped stacks of dough. Put all the stacks on top of each other to form a tower of sorts. In one brisk movement, carefully pick up the tower and place it lengthwise, cut sides up in an oiled bread pan. Don’t worry about making your squares perfect symmetrical. In my opinion, the bread looks nicer when your dough slices are a little crooked and uneven. Your finished product should look like a loaf of many slices of bread lined up in the pan.
- Place the loaf in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove your dough from the turned-off oven (if that’s what you’ve used), and preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake your loaf at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. Stab it with a fork or toothpick to check for uncooked dough. If everything is cooked, allow your bread to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the pan and serving.
- I loved this bread without any caramel on top. However, if you're going to take this pull-apart bread to another level of amazingness, whip up a batch of vegan coconut caramel sauce to drizzle on top. See instructions below.
For the Coconut Caramel Sauce:
- All you've got to do is dump all of your ingredients in a small saucepan and place it over medium-high to high heat. Once your mixture starts bubbling set a timer (or count slowly ;) ) for 50 seconds, and stir constantly with a wire whisk.
- Remove saucepan from heat, and allow mixture to cool for at least 30 seconds to a minute before drizzling it over your fudge.Step 3If your caramel sauce has cooled or hardened and is too hard to drizzle, add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of almond milk, and put it in the microwave for a few seconds or in a saucepan on the stove on low until soft.Step 4Drizzle this stuff on anything–apples, popcorn, fudge, whatever. :)
- If your caramel sauce has cooled or hardened and is too hard to drizzle, add about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of almond milk, and put it in the microwave for a few seconds or in a saucepan on the stove on low until soft.
- Drizzle this stuff on anything–apples, popcorn, fudge, whatever. :)