Try this breakfast or tea bread for Christmas morning. The braid is reminiscent of a pine cone or "Wickelkind" (child wrapped in swaddling), a symbolic start to your day. Filled with jam, almonds and raisins, the bread is just sweet enough to please, but you might enjoy it with a little butter spread on top. This bread can be refrigerated overnight, which makes it a snap to bake for breakfast or Elevensies.
- 3 cups/375 grams all-purpose flour (unbleached)
- 1 tsp. "Rapid Rise" yeast (may also use regular yeast)
- 1/2 cups plus 1 T./125 ml. milk (lukewarm)
- 3 T./50 grams butter
- 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup/112 ml. apricot jam
- 1/3 cup/50 grams almonds (ground, whole)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup/50 grams raisins
- 1 egg yolk
- Optional: Sugar glaze of choice
Night Before You Bake
Proof the yeast:
- Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup or weigh.
- Place flour in a mixing bowl and create a hollow in the middle.
- Place yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the hollow, pour the milk over that and sprinkle a little flour over the milk.
- Cover with a clean towel and let the yeast proof for 15 minutes.
Make the dough:
- In a separate container, whisk together melted butter, room-temperature eggs, sugar, and salt until sugar starts to dissolve.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour and yeast and mix with your dough hook until dough is smooth and satiny -- about 5 minutes. The dough will still cling to the bowl a little bit but not be very sticky. You may add up to 1 tablespoon of flour or a sprinkle of water to adjust the consistency.
- Butter a clean bowl, gather the dough up into a round ball and place in a bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.
Make the filling:
- Mix the apricot jam, almonds and vanilla together to form a thick paste.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board to form a 12 inch by 16-inch rectangle.
- Spread the apricot paste down the middle third of the dough. Sprinkle the raisins over the paste.
Begin the braid:
- Using a sharp knife, cut 1-inch strips on the diagonal on the two outside thirds, stopping before you cut into the paste.
- Fold one end over the filling and begin braiding by folding the strips of dough over each other like crossing arms or lacing up boots. See here for image.
- Finish the braid by folding the far end over before you cross the last two strips, to form a package. Don't worry if you can see the filling a little bit.
- Place the bread on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The Day Of Baking
Bake the bread:
- Heat the oven for 1/2 hour to 385°F. Remove braid from the refrigerator at this time. You will not see any appreciable rise.
- Mix egg yolk with 2-3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash and brush it over the braid.
- Place bread (still on a cookie sheet) on the middle rack in the oven, turn oven down to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and done.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Serve as is or brush with a sugar glaze (1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon water, heat until dissolved) or a powdered sugar glaze, American style (mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter until crumbly. Add milk by the teaspoon until spreadable or of drizzling consistency).
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|