This unusual but delightful bread is based on an old Swedish recipe found in a book called Östgötamat by Inga Wallenquist. It goes really well with ham and cheese and makes a great talking point as while Swedes love rye bread, few people will have tasted it with apple.
25g (1 oz) margarine
250ml (1 cup) milk
7g (2 tsp) “Easy bake” yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp golden (light) syrup
375g (3.5 to 4 cups) rye flour, sifted
1 apple, preferably not too sweet, peeled, cored and cut into slices
1. Melt the margarine in a saucepan. Add the milk and syrup. Heat until the mixture is at 45C (115F), gently stirring occasionally.
2. Combine the yeast, salt and most of the flour in a large bowl, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
3. Stir in the warm milk mixture and keep stirring it until it forms a soft dough.
4. Tip the dough out on to a floured work surface and then knead for 5 minutes or so, by which time the dough should be drier, shinier and more elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
5. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm draught-free place for about 40 minutes, until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
6. Tip the dough onto the floured surface again and push down on it firmly a couple of times to knock the air out of it.
7. Divide it into two and flatten the pieces out until they are both about 24cm in diameter. Place one piece on a non-stick baking tray and then top it with the peeled apple pieces in four or five lines.
8. Place the other half of the dough on top of the apple and then tidy up the edges a bit so that the two pieces fit together.
9. Fork over the top 20-30 times, cover with a clean cloth and leave it to rise somewhere warm for about 20 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
10. Preheat the oven to 225C (450F, Gas 8, Fan 200C).
11. Bake for 20 minutes until it has turned brown and the underside sounds hollow when tapped.
12. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
– It is important that the milk is tepid because if it is too hot it will kill the yeast. With dried yeast it should be heated to 45C (115F).
– If you are measuring the flour by volume, do not pack the flour down. If you use too much flour it will make the dough hard.
– Add a tray of boiling water to the oven to prevent the bread becoming too dry, but take care to avoid the steam when opening the oven.