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I would like to figure out how to make a strongly apple-flavored yeast bread

I found a recipe for a yeast bread that I was quite happy with, which starts with the yeast in 2 cups of milk, then uses 1/3 of a cup of honey as the source of sugar. More recently, I came across this BA video on cider donuts which starts out with essentially making mulled apple cider and reducing it to a syrupy/jelly consistency.

This inspired me to try to make an apple cider yeast bread. I found this recipe for an apple cider yeast bread, but it says that it produces a bread with "a hint of apple and a faint sweetness". "A hint of apple" is not enough for me, I really want to make a yeast-based bread that truly tastes of apple.


What I tried:

I substituted 4 cups of apple cider (with cinnamon, cloves, and an allspice berry), reduced to about 1/2 cup, for the honey in the original recipe (I checked, 4 cups of cider has about the same amount of sugar as 1/3 cup of honey).

Unfortunately, my bread came out tasting like a wonderful yeast bread, without the slightest trace of apple (it doesn't taste like the original recipe, I think it's actually better, but no trace of the apple cider). I would like to make my cider bread truly contain a strong apple flavor.


Can I:

  • Substitute cider for the milk from the original recipe
  • Make a second batch of the cider reduction and fold it into the dough somehow
  • Some other option that will produce a stronger apple flavor
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    Would you be open to including bits of actual apple in there (perhaps dried and finely grated)? There's only so far you can go with adding liquid, but that's all you say you've tried. – Chris H Jan 14 at 9:05
  • @ChrisH I have not tried with bits of apple, that's an interesting idea. One reason I hadn't tried it yet was because I had a side-by-side comparison of a very small amount of the reduction and a decent size lump of cooked apples on top of a crepe, and the reduction was far, far more potently apple. I will look into that as an option; you might even be able to expand the comment into an answer, if you like. – fyrepenguin Jan 14 at 15:08
  • If the milk-fats are needed for the bread, an option would be to use powdered milk and re-hydrate it with cider as an experiment and see if you like the results. There may however be other effect such as too much total sugar or the increased acidity due to the cider. It would be worth a try though. – dlb Jan 14 at 20:50
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    You'll want pie Apples, the sourish variety, rather than the sickeningly sweet things they pass off as "eating apples" these days. Malic acid rather than sugar is your friend in terms of getting an appley tasting dough. Sweet Apple's will also make your dough rise too fast and too high. If not careful, your dough will actually collapse, leaving you with a disastrous flattish bread-like catastrophe. As Chris suggests, some actual apple chunks would be good. – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 15 at 2:00
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    I don't have a recipe nor experience but this sounds like a job for a nice scoop of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_butter – Borgh Jan 15 at 11:25
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I suggest that (in addition to using a reduction of the juice*/cider) you add some solid apple.

Personally I would get dried apple, of a tasty variety if at all possible, and put it through a food processor until fairly fine. I dehydrate my own home-grown apples, selected for flavour, but would buy Cox or Granny Smith for this. Then add as you would other dried fruit. If you get the really dry dried apple chips, you could partially rehydrate the pieces in spiced apple juice/cider to soften it a little, adding to the flavour.

* Where I'm from "cider" is always alcoholic, the unfermented juice is just "juice" even if cloudy, so I'll use both terms, hopefully correctly.

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Bread does not have to be made with milk, in fact that is rare - bread is usually made with water. You could substitute apple cider for milk for a much stronger apple flavor, my concern with that approach is the sugar you are adding (apple cider is very sweet) for 2 reasons:

  1. Yeast is retarded by sugar, so a lot of sugar will inhibit your yeast growth. Many people think that adding sugar must help the yeast along but it is actually the opposite. You may need a far longer rising time as a result of adding more cider
  2. That amount of sugar could make the bread too sweet, masking the apple flavor

If you want to boost the apple flavor but nothing else your best bet is to add an apple extract of some kind.

  • You could take into account the sugar in the cider and add correspondingly less of the cider reduction, so that in total you don't add more sugar than in the original recipe, i. e. only use the syrup made from 2 cups of cider. – Tinuviel Jan 14 at 9:58
  • @Tinuviel but wouldn't that reduce the amount of added apple flavor? Either way, I would add 4 cups of cider to the recipe. – fyrepenguin Jan 14 at 15:04
  • @GdD I am not quite so worried about inhibiting yeast growth; my bread rose a lot more than I was expecting when I made it recently. I was hoping to find a method without apple extract, or the like. – fyrepenguin Jan 14 at 15:06
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    I wouldn't worry about acidity, apple cider isn't that sour and yeast has tolerance to acid @fyrepenguin. If you don't want to use extract then add more cider. Cut out any extra sugar, and see how you get on. Cooking the cider down may concentrate the liquid but you might be destroying a lot of the volatile flavor compounds you want, so I'd try avoiding that. – GdD Jan 14 at 15:14
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    @fyrepenguin: Milk also contains protein and fat, in addition to the sugars. If you use whole milk, you might want to add an extra tablespoon of butter or so if you replace a couple cups of whole milk with cider, to provide an equivalent amount of fat. The lower protein probably isn't much of a concern, but if you feel like you're missing something else from the milk, you could also try using dry milk powder too. – Athanasius Jan 14 at 17:32
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You won't get apple-tasting bread by using apples. What you think of as "taste" is actually the aroma of the apple, and has little to do with the taste buds. A whole fresh apple tastes of apples. If you put pieces of an apple in the dough, it is already a large amount of dough to a smaller amount of apple (your bread would fall apart if you were to use more than 50% apple), and then you bake it, making a large part of the aroma float away and the rest change (baked apples don't taste like fresh apples).

If you try somehow concentrating the apple products before adding them to the bread, you actually fare worse. When you make treacle, or dried apple, or something similar, you retain the solids and let the liquid evaporate. The aroma is dissolved in the liquid, and so you end up with less aroma per gram of apple than in a fresh apple. So it doesn't help for your purpose.

If you go back to the fresh apple example, my mother used to sometimes make a quickbread with quite a bit of grated apple mixed into the batter. The apple aroma was so mild, I sometimes didn't realize if it is apple quickbread or a cake from a similar batter if I didn't pay close attention to the texture. And I had no chance of distinguishing if she used apples or substituted quinces if she didn't tell me. So, even with whole apple pieces, you get a hint, no more.

You can try "cheating", by adding strong aromas which are typically associated with apple. If you add some cinnamon, people who are accustomed to an apple-cinnamon combination will perceive it as more apple-y. But this depends on the eaters' history, and will only take you so far. Another thing that doesn't do quite what you wanted is to drop the bread idea and make apple strudel instead, with a sufficient ratio of filling to dough.

Your only chance for a pronounced apple taste in the bread is to get some concentrated artificial flavoring and add that in the proper amount (which will depend on the actual flavoring agent). All other forms will give you a slight apple hint, not a strong apple taste when baked as a bread or a quickbread.

  • I find that the concentrated apple cider retains a very strong apple flavor, though it might just be stronger per unit volume and it could have lost some of its strength overall (such as if it was concentrated then re-hydrated). I do not plan on "cheating" with an extract, I was kind of hoping to find a better way with more cider or apples. You have brought up an interesting point about where the aroma and flavor are carried, I'll have to look into that. – fyrepenguin Jan 15 at 5:25

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