The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Favorite Christmas Bread

Jean L's picture
Jean L

My Favorite Christmas Bread

I don't have a picture of this wonderful bread.  It was sent out by Associated Press and was published in our paper on 12/16/10. Do try this wonderful bread.  You won't be sorry.

JeanL

AMERICAN HOLIDAY WREATH BREAD

Atlanta Journal Constitution 12/16/10 

For the dough

1/2  cup

Water

***

Hearty pinch of saffron threads, crushed

2 cups

Milk (warm to 105 - 120 degrees) note: Rapid rise requires hotter temp liquids.

1 TBSP

Instant (also called Fast-Rise) yeast

1/2  cup

Honey

1/3 cup

Canola or vegetable oil

3

Whole Eggs

3

Egg Yolks

2 tsp

Salt

1/2  tsp

Cardamom

1/2  tsp

Cinnamon

8 cups

Bread flour

1/2 cup

Golden raisins

1/2 cup

Dried cranberries

1/2  cup

Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

1/4 cup

Candied ginger, chopped

For the filling:

1 1/2

(8 ounce + 4 oz.) package Cream Cheese

1/3 cup

Granulated sugar

1

Egg

1/4  tsp

Lemon zest

For the topping:

1/2  cup

Brown sugar

1/4 cup

Granulated sugar

3/4 cup

All-purpose flour

1/2 TBSP

Cinnamon

****

Pinch of salt

6 TBSP

(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1

Egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for basting loaf)

For the Icing: (optional)  the streusel topping is really great by itself

1 1/2 cups

Powdered sugar

1/4 cup

Heavy cream

1 tsp

Almond extract

 

 

Page 1 of 2

AMERICAN HOLIDAY WREATH BREAD

Instructions

To make the dough

1

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the water and saffron.  Microwave on high until boiling, then set aside to cool.

2

Once cooled, in mixer bowl, combine saffron water, warmed milk, yeast, honey, oil, eggs, yolks, salt cardamom, cinnamon, and flour.  Using hook attachment, mix on low until a soft dough forms. 

3

Add the raisins, cranberries, hazelnuts and ginger, then knead (on mixer) until incorporated. Continue mixing on low to knead for 6 to 7 minutes.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest (Autolyse is fancy word invented by a French baking instructor and bread scientist of sorts, Raymond Calvel. It means to let your dough rest before kneading.) for 2 hours.  (The dough also can be placed in the refrigerator and allowed to rest overnight.)

4

Shortly before the dough has finished resting, make the cream cheese filling and the streusel topping.

To make the filling:

1

In mixer bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until well combined and lump-free.  Add the egg and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Set aside.

To make the streusel topping:

1

In medium bowl, combine brown and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add the butter and mix until it has all been incorporated and the crumbs have all been moistened.

***

When the dough has finished resting, it should be double in size and quite puffy.  Coat a large baking pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

To make the wreath:

1

Roll the dough into a 24X18 inch rectangleSpread the cream cheese filling over the surface, leaving a 2 inch strip of uncovered dough along the long side farthest from you.

2

Starting with the side closest to you, roll the dough up to form a long log.  Slightly moisten the edge of the dough and pinch to seal.  Keeping the sealed edge on the bottom, move the dough to the prepared sheet pan.  Bring ends together to form a large circle, then insert one end into the other end to seal. The wreath should be about 2 inches across.

3

Paint the wreath all over with the beaten egg-water mix, then top with the streusel mixture, patting it into place with your hands.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let rest for 1 hour or until risen and puffy.

4

About 45 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 350F degrees .

5

Use a sharp knife to make about 6 slashes around the top of the bread. 

6

Bake for 1 hour, or until a deep golden color.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.

7

Once cooled, prepare the icing.

To make the Icing

1

In medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and almond extract.  Drizzle over loaf.

 

12/24/11 – we divided dough and made 2 lattice boules, really pretty.  Other designs are possible.

Page 2 of 2