Put 140 ml of milk and the tea leaves in a small pan and heat. Use small chopped tea leaves.
When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Leave to cool.
Pour the milk into a measuring cup, tea leaves and all. Add milk up to the 140 ml mark if needed.
Make the apple filling. Cut the apple into 1 cm dice.
Put the apple, sugar, and butter in a pan, and sauté.
When the butter and sugar have melted and everything is well mixed, simmer over medium-low heat until there's no liquid left in the pan, stirring occasionally.
When the liquid is gone and the apple pieces are translucent, slightly golden brown, and glossy, the filling is done. Leave it to cool down completely.
Put everything but the yeast and apple in the bread machine pan. Put the yeast in the yeast compartment, and press the start button.
The baking program differs depending on the bread machine. Choose the one that lets you add the apple halfway through, and also lets you take the dough out after the first rising...
...so that you can form the dough in the way you like. Press Start.
When the machine beeps, open the lid and add the apples. Restart the machine. (A Panasonic Home Bakery machine re-starts automatically after 3 minutes.)
After the program is done (1st rising), take the dough out of the machine.
Measure the dough and divide into 9 pieces. Lightly roll each piece into a ball. Ref: With about 450 g of dough, you can can make 9 portions that are about 50g each.
Cover the dough balls with a moistened kitchen towel so they don't dry out. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Press down evenly on each ball on a work surface or between your hands to deflate them.
Form each piece of deflated dough into a smooth ball again, and place in muffin cups with the seam side down. Repeat for all 9 portions.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to rise at 105°F/40°C for 15 minutes. (Preheat the oven to 105°F/40°C in advance.)
After letting the dough rise in the oven for 15 minutes, take it out and let it rise at room temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes. (This is because the oven needs to be preheated to bake the bread.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, starting as soon as you take the baking sheet out.
The dough should rise to about 70-80% of the height of the muffin cups. It's the same if you let them rise at room temperature for the whole 2nd rising.
Bake in a 375°F/190°C oven for about 14 minutes. Transfer the baked bread on a cooling rack. When they've cooled down, they're done!
If you have the type of bread machine where the yeast is added to the baking pan, be sure to keep it away from the salt.
Story Behind this Recipe
I've always wanted to make a bread that has the fragrance of my favorite tea, and I achieved that here. I used my popular apple pie filling this time too.
I use a Panasonic Home Bakery, and select the "Dough with raisins" program. Please bring the unsalted butter to room temperature before using. Castor sugar is usually used for bread, but I used light brown sugar in this recipe. Choose whichever you prefer.