Sunday, April 24

Mock Cobblestones

My love affair with Panera began with a cobblestone. Out to lunch with a friend, I spotted the curious, lumpy-looking muffin and had to try it. It was heavenly.

When I started working for Panera, I loved telling people what was in them. "Our bakers take our cinnamon raisin bread dough, chop it up, add apples and molasses, bake it off and put streusel and white icing on top." That never failed to make the sale!

Unfortunately, when Panera changed their raisin bread recipe I considered the new cobblestones inferior to the ones I'd loved and gave up eating them. (The 650 calories and 62 grams were strong motivators as well.) When I left Panera early last year, I pretty much forgot about cobblestones all together.

Then I picked up a copy of Sarabeth's Bakery from the library and saw a recipe for apple cinnamon bread. Reading through it, I realized that rather than a normal loaf, she was making a monkey-bread sort of concoction where you chop your bread dough together with your apple filling and lump it all in the loaf pan together so that it pulls apart in gooey chunks after baking.

Of course that made me think of cobblestones, and I had to give it a whirl. The good news is, the method is easy. The bad news is that the bread recipe I tried from the book did not have the consistency I was expecting and the finished product was not what I was hoping for.

As you can see, they're not nearly as puffy and soft as they should be. But, I consider this a learning experience and plan to try again. If you want to try making your own (with dramatically fewer calories and less sugar than Panera's), here's the basic recipe:

Dough - use your favorite recipe for a light yeast bread or, even better, your favorite cinnamon roll dough.

Apple filling - any apple pie or crisp filling will work fine here, the syrupy-er the better. Throw in some raisins or chopped nuts if you like.

Icing - combine powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla and enough milk or cream to reach the consistency you like best.

Make your dough and let it have it's first rise. Roll it out, spread it with some melted butter and a generous layer of your apple filling. Starting on a short side, roll it up. Using a knife or bend scraper, chop it into messy chunks. Scoop up handfuls and drop them into greased or lined muffin tins. It's a good idea not to make these too big, as they're plenty rich and filling! Don't over-fill them; about 3/4 full is good. (Alternatively, you can bake this as a loaf in a standard or mini-sized loaf pans.)

Let them rise until light and puffy, then bake at 350* for half an hour. Depending on the dough you used, you may need to bake as much as another 25 minutes to hit done-ness, but that will vary widely by your dough and the size of the muffins you made. They should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool enough that you won't burn your fingers on the filling, drizzle generously with icing, and enjoy!

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