I enjoy creating new dishes especially when the holidays come around. The old tried and true are wonderful but every so often you need to break out of your comfort zone and try something different.
When I saw this post on Sara Kate's blog I knew I had to try some version of this Holiday Bread Wreath. I've never been much of a bread baker and as I'm getting older I find I shy away from eating bread altogether because of the carbs and calories. All that flew out the window when I laid my eyes on this spectacular loaf of swirling bread.
Much to my surprise it wasn't difficult at all. In fact it was easy and turned out tasting delicious! My husband thought it was pretty but didn't want to indulge so I decided to share it with my mom and sister. When I unveiled my creation they were all oohs and ahhs, just what I'd hoped. We all dug in, had a slice and loved it. The rest was left for my mom to share with her friends who would be stopping by later.
This beautiful Holiday Bread Wreath would be a lovely gift to give someone or perfect served on Christmas morning. Warm and cozy with some coffee, tea or hot cocoa.
The recipe below comes from the December 1978 issue of Sunset Magazine. However, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan made some changes to it and I made some changes to her recipe.
Below is my step by step version and this is Sara Kate's of The Kitchn:
Holiday Bread Wreath with Cranberry-Pistachio Filling
adapted from Sunset Magazine, December 1978
makes about 12 servings
1 packet (1/4oz) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (about 110° F)
1/2 cup warm milk (about 110° F)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Cranberry-Pistachio Filling:
3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries, soaked in 1/2 cup Calvados (I used) or other liqueur
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shelled pistachios
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon orange extract
For the Sugar Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for a minute or two. (looks like fireworks going off in the water)
Blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs and orange zest.
Stir in two cups of the flour, one cup at a time. Beat for 2 minutes. (I used my stand mixer) Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough. (dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl)
Note: You might not use all the flour.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour if needed to prevent sticking. (You know it's ready when dough becomes smooth, shiny and if you poke the dough it springs back)
Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl (I spray with non-stick spray) large enough to accommodate dough when doubled in size. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).
Meanwhile, prepare the Cranberry-Pistachio Filling:
Drain the dried fruit of its liqueur and reserve for another use. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
When dough has risen and doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading just enough to release any air bubbles.
Roll the dough into a 9- by 30-inch rectangle.
Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. (forgot to take photo but can view Sara Kate's photos for reference) Starting along a long side, tightly roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal.
With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise, carefully turn cut sides up,
and loosely twist ropes around each other, keeping cut sides up. (An extra set of hands would have been nice here)
Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake wreath until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
While wreath is baking, Prepare Sugar Glaze by stirring together ingredients until smooth.
When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack with wide spatulas or a pizza peel.
The wreath can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time, cooled completely and wrapped tightly in foil.
Store at room temperature then re-heat at 350° for 10-15 minutes, drizzling the glaze just before serving.
Note: Next time I'm planning to make this using chocolate chips, coconut, and macadamia nuts. In place of the milk I'll use coconut milk and vanilla or coconut extract.
This bread can be adapted to use any type of dried fruit and ingredients you like. I think even adding cream cheese to the filling would be sensational. Be creative and don't be afraid to experiment. Afterall, that's the fun part of cooking!