Makes 2 loaves
1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
2 1/14 tsp active dry yeast
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 1/2 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups apple butter
2 apples, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
In a microwave safe dish, heat milk until warm, but not scalded or boiling, about 45 seconds. In same bowl, stir in yeast and maple syrup and let sit for 5 minutes, until foaming.
*Warm liquid helps activate the yeast quickly. If liquid is too hot, it can kill the yeast, therefore you let it foam to ensure it is alive before adding remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add bread flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. With the mixer running, add in one tablespoon of butter at a time, until combined. Next, add in one egg at a time, followed by milk mixture. Continue to mix on medium for 7-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. If dough continues to stick to the side of the bowl, add a tablespoon of flour at a time, until it fully releases.
Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place (inside of a turned-off oven with the oven light on is good) until it puffs and rises, about 1 to 2 hours. It may not double in bulk but it should rise.
Press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare the streusel: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugars and salt. Stir in melted butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. Streusel can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.
Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9-by-17-inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling and apples (there's no need to leave a border). Starting with a long side, roll into a tight coil. Transfer the coil onto a dish towel or piece of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Slice one of the dough coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together as if you were braiding them, then fold the braid in half so it’s about 9 inches long. Place into a prepared pan, letting it curl around itself if it’s a little too long for the pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours, until puffy (it won’t quite double). Alternatively, you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight; bring them back to room temperature for an hour before baking.
When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use your fingers to clump streusel together and scatter all over the tops of the cakes. Transfer to oven and bake until a tester goes into the cakes without any rubbery resistance and comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. The cakes will also sound hollow if you unmold them and tap on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer will read between 185 and 210 degrees.