Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Golden Braid

Still on the subject of cooler weather and what that means in the kitchen, it is also fun now to bake bread. It did get cool enough in the house that I used a heated pitcher of water to help the dough rise by putting both in the microwave and closing the door because it just wasn't rising in the chill of the house. The good news is that the oven warms everything up once it gets going and the fragrance of fresh yeast bread has a soul satisfying warmth for the spirit all its own.

This particular bread was made for today's auction at P.E.O., the women's scholarship group I belong to. Every year we have a silent auction to raise funds for the scholarships and freshly baked bread gets lots of bidders. I made a golden braid of dried fruit laced deliciousness. Orange zest complements the dried cranberries, golden raisins and chopped citron. Since the bread has very little sugar, it can be used with soup or sliced thin and buttered for a breakfast or afternoon nibble.

The recipe is from a book that has festive holiday bread recipes. I added dried cranberries and chopped citron, increased the amount of orange zest and added a bit more water. The recipe said to put the dried fruits in with the flour, but next time I think I'll knead them into the dough once it it mixed and kneaded.

Fruited Braid
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from a recipe in The Festive Bread Book, by Kathy Cutler

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
2 ¼ - 3 cups unbleached bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (colored part only)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped citron
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup warm milk (105 – 115 degrees F)
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Combine 1 ½ cups flour, salt, orange zest, raisins, dried cranberries, citron and sugar in mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Mix together the warm milk and egg. Add the milk mixture, yeast mixture and butter to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk – about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide the dough into thirds. Make three ropes. Braid on a greased, parchment covered, or silicon mat covered baking sheet.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about 30 -45 minutes.

Brush with melted butter. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 minutes, then turn down temperature to 325 degrees F and bake another 20-30 minutes until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the back.

Cool on a wire rack.

OPTIONAL: If you want to decorate the loaf: Make the Confectioners’ Icing, then drizzle it over the cool loaf. Sprinkle with the almonds and candied cherries to decorate. Let the icing dry before serving.

Confectioners Sugar icing: Mix together 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest and 1-2 tablespoons milk. 

1 comment :

  1. Oooooooh.
    You know what that reminds me of?? Stollen, my FAVEfavefavorite holiday bread of them all.

    *suddenly starving*

    I made THE BEST soup the other night, and am off to start another one... and get out some cranberries for a quick bread. YUM.