Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Snowflake

We toasted Mom at the viewing with Irish Mist, revisited clouds of incense at the funeral Mass, ate and drank and hugged and cried and talked endlessly. It was all good. Came home in time to make a wonderful sweet yeast bread for Christmas morning. Posting quite late, but better late, right?

This delightful brioche bread, which is almost (almost but really not quite) too pretty to eat is brought to you in part by Cathy of Bread Experience, our Bread Baking Babe Kitchen of the Month. It is very impressive to look at and delicious to eat, but not as difficult to make as you might think. Thanks Cathy for choose the perfect December recipe.

The brioche dough goes together easily, especially if you have a stand mixer to do some of the heavy work. If not, just remember that kneading bread is very contemplative and relaxing. It is an easy dough to handle, too, and rolled out easily.

The requested filling is Nutella, but I'm not a fan of chocolate and yeast bread, plus I don't enjoy hazelnuts, so I made a filling of very thinly spread cream cheese, sprinkled with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. Sure made the house smell like Christmas!

The shaping looks difficult, but is in fact child's play. I took the cap of a spice jar and indented a small circle in the middle of the stacked, filled layers of dough. That helped me to keep the cuts more even in the center. Turning the pairs of dough a few times outward to create the stripes  was easy and then I just stuck the ends together and turned them under.

Since I made the snowflake to this point on Christmas Eve, I covered it with oiled plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge overnight. In the morning the dough rose while the oven preheated, so it was ready to eat by the time the fruit bowl was prepared and bacon cooked. Sweetie even made his signature scrambled eggs. What a feast!

Wishing you, dear reader, a joyful holiday season, no matter where you are.

If you wish to be a Buddy you still have time. Bake the bread, take a photo or two, send Cathy an e-mail telling of your experience making the bread and do it by December 29th.

Please visit the other Babes sites to see their versions. Bet you will be inspired to make this yummy bread yourself.

The original version:

Nutella Brioche Flower

Makes: 1 large Nutella Brioche Flower


For the sponge:

1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) bread flour or all-purpose (I used Bob's Red Mill AP)
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whole milk, lukewarm (90 to 100 degrees F.)

For the dough:

3 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups (13.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1-2 teaspoons milk, if necessary to form a smooth dough

For the filling and glaze:
Nutella or similar hazelnut chocolate paste for the filling
1 tablespoon milk plus 1 tablespoon water for glaze
Icing (confectioner's) sugar

To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer). Pour in the milk and whisk the ingredients together until all of the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the sponge rises and falls when you tap the bowl.

To make the dough, add the eggs to the sponge and whisk (or beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment) until smooth.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add this mixture to the sponge and eggs and stir (or continue mixing with the paddle on low speed for about 2 minutes) until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to begin to develop the gluten.  Then mix in the melted butter by hand, using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk or with the mixer on medium speed using the dough hook. Add in a couple of teaspoons of milk if the dough is too dry. 

Transfer the dough to the work surface and knead for about 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.  It shouldn't be too sticky too handle.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a clean bowl.  It doesn't need to be oiled.  The butter should keep the dough from sticking to the bowl.  Let the dough bulk ferment in a warm place (70- 75 degrees F.) for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, cut out a circle of baking or greaseproof paper about 30 cm (12″) in diameter. Place the paper on a baking sheet.

To shape the flower, once risen, turn the dough out onto a surface, knock it back knead for 3-4 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a ball.

Roll a ball of dough out into a circle measuring about 25 cm (10″) in diameter. The dough should be about 3-4 mm (1/8″) thick.

Place the dough onto the baking paper and spread on a layer of Nutella, leaving a small gap at the edge. Don’t make the layer too thick but be sure to evenly cover the dough.

Roll out a second ball of dough, place it on the first layer and spread with Nutella. Repeat with the third and fourth balls of dough but do NOT spread Nutella on the final layer.

Cut the brioche into 16 segments but leave a small (3 cm/1½”) area in the centre of the dough uncut.

Take a pair of adjacent segments. Lift and twist them away from each other through 180°. Lift and twist through 180° again, then twist through 90° so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process for all pairs of segments.

Place the brioche in a large plastic bag or cover with lightly oiled film. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours to prove.

Brush with the glaze then bake at 160°C/320°F fan oven, 180°C/360°F conventional oven for 20-25 minutes.  I baked it at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes, then turned it down to 350 and baked it another 5 minutes or so.

Place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, dust lightly with icing sugar.  


  1. A celebration bread Elle, sweet comfort in every bite. Great you decided to make it anyway, it looks great and your filling sounds divine!

  2. Wow! Looks amazing. Nutella and brioche dough - what more could you want. Stunning shape too, never seen one like that before.

    Wishing you a happy new year

  3. Looks beautiful!!!

  4. You've made a masterpiece! Perfect timing!
    I had lots of fun shaping it and even more eating it :-)

    Sweet season greeting!

  5. Hope you're at peace with your mom's passing and glad all went in harmony and she had a good life lived.
    Wonderful that you made this beautiful loaf and enjoyed it together, your flower/snowflake/star is just perfect.

  6. Cream cheese and cinnamon sugar! What an excellent idea.

    Your bread looks lovely and just the thing to have to remember your mother.

  7. What a beautiful bread! David has been so ill we didn't really do anything holiday-esque, but I'm so glad you not only got to toast your Mom, but enjoy some time together. Happy 2015.