On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – FIVE GOLD RINGS! And Cook Local gives you a Christmas Bread Wreath.
Five gold rings. Such an extravagant gift. We thought that today’s post would be a no brainer. Golden. Rings. Doughnuts! I mean, who doesn’t love doughnuts? Well, ok. I know a few people who don’t love doughnuts. If you’re in the Seattle area, we really hope you’ll try our very favorite doughnut shop. That shop is Frost Doughnuts. They’re up in Mill Creek, and while that’s a bit of a drive, it is so worth it. Not only do their doughnuts absolutely rock, but they’re one of those companies that does Twitter right. We recommend their salted caramel doughnuts. They’ve been known to make eyes roll back in heads. The bacon-maple bar is also quite good as is the bourbon pecan doughnut.
Back to the plan. Doughnuts. Ok. Flour – check. Sugar – check. Other ingredients – check. Doughnut pan – <crickets>. Doughnut pan – <crickets>. Doughnut pan? Bueller? Bueller?
Well, we don’t own a doughnut pan. And given that our kitchen is sort of overflowing with pots and pans as it is, we didn’t want to buy a doughnut pan. Plus, we try to provide recipes that you can make with very little special equipment. So back to the drawing board. What we came up with was delicious, simple, and will make a beautiful presentation for your Christmas table.
I’ve always wanted to make a braided bread. They look so striking and decadent. Amazingly though, I had to search through every one of my cookbooks to find a recipe. I have a LOT of cookbooks. I finally found the recipe in a book I’ve been meaning to use for a couple of years now. Local Breads was a gift from a good friend and I’d never had a chance to use it. Admittedly, I’m not thrilled with the book. Or rather, it isn’t the most useful book in the world for my lifestyle. Many of the breads in the book require days to proof the dough. Luckily today’s recipe can go from start to finish in about 4 hours.
Czech Christmas Braid from Local Breads
- 3/4 cup warmed milk
- 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for later)
- 1.25 tsp yeast
- 2 cups flour
- 4 Tbsp butter, softened
- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tsp sugar, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup cranberries
- 1/4 cup almonds or hazelnuts
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the milk the the egg yolks until blended.
- Add the yeast, flour, butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt.
- Beat on low just until all combined.
- Now, either turn the dough out onto a floured surface, or put the dough hook on the Kitchenaid. If you’re using the Kitchenaid, beat on speed 4 for eight minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, make sure your hands are well floured, but try not to incorporate much more flour into the dough.
- When the dough is smooth and elastic, transfer to a greased bowl.
- Cover and let rise for 1-1.5 hours or until nearly doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and divide into three equal portions.
- Roll each portion into a long rope, about 14 inches long.
- Place the ropes parallel to each other on a greased cookie sheet.
- Attach the tops of the dough ropes together and fold under to seal.
- Braid the dough down the length of the ropes and press the ends together.
- Either leave as a straight braid or form into a circle.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1-1.5 hours.
- During the last 30 minutes of the rise, preheat the oven to 350.
- Whisk the egg whites with the 1/2 tsp of sugar and brush on the braid.
- Sprinkle the bread with the slivered almonds or hazelnuts.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Slice and serve.
Notes: This is a fantastic bread. It would be perfect for breakfast on Christmas morning. Golden Glen Creamery, at the University District and Ballard Farmers Markets, sometimes sells this cranberry orange butter and this bread is amazing slathered with the butter. But you don’t need butter. The bread is great on its own. The dough is definitely sweet and moist, but it isn’t heavy. The dried cranberries I used were sweetened, but you could use any dried fruit you want. The original recipe called for raisins. Since the phrase in the song is five golden rings, here are four more variations I think would work well with this bread.
- Drizzle the top with white or dark chocolate after baking.
- Mix cinnamon and nutmeg in with the egg wash.
- Mince candied ginger and mix in to the dough while substituting chopped, dried pears for the fruit.
- Sprinkle some vanilla salt on the bread before baking and use a vanilla infused sugar for the dough.
We’ll work up a savory version of this same bread in the next few weeks.
- 12 Recipes of Christmas – Rosemary Breadsticks Coming up with the Twelve Recipes of Christmas wasn’t the...
- Single serving sandwich bread. Really. No, seriously. Mr. Cooklocal here, and let me apologize right off the...
- Freshly Baked Bread Have you ever walked by a bakery right when the...
- The Twelve Recipes of Christmas If you remember, back in November, we led up to...