Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bread Wreath

I made this over the holidays and am a bit tardy posting it.  It actually wasn't as difficult as it looks.

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
2 1/4 cups bread flour
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast

Mix flours, salt, yeast and 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water with a wooden spoon to make a wet and sticky dough.  Cover and set aside in a warm place until almost tripled in size, 2 to 3 hours.

When the dough has risen, divide it in half and transfer one piece to another bowl. Cover both bowls and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator, sprinkle each piece with flour, and then shape into 2 smooth balls.  Using floured hands, pick up a ball of dough and poke thumbs through the center to make a hole. Place on parchment, then gently stretch the dough from the center to make a 9-inch-diameter ring with a 5-inch hole in the center.  Sprinkle with flour.  Repeat to shape the other ball of dough into a ring. Let rest, uncovered, about 15 minutes.

Holding scissors at a 45 degree angle, make deep cuts at 1 and 1/2-inch intervals all the way around, pulling the cut sections away from the center as you go to make "leaves." Let rest, uncovered, until plump, about 15 more minutes.

I made two loaves; the first looked ugly, the second looked nice.  It might be worth practicing and then starting over, but it really wasn't difficult once I got the hang of the recipe.  The biggest thing I did wrong the first time around was rolling the dough too thin, which made it difficult to cut.

I drizzled my loaf with butter (optional) and sprinkled it with kosher salt (also optional!).  If I make this again, I'll probably try a sweet version, such a cinnamon sugar, or maybe a garlic one... Mmm.

Bake each loaf until the bread is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

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