Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Festive Yule Wreath

'Tis the season for baking, and what a wonderful recipe to use to catch up on a BBB post that I missed in 2008.  For beautiful step by step instructions, go to Sweet and That's It to see the most recent post.  The BBB originally baked this beautiful bread in December of 2008.  I used a mix of all purpose and spelt flour for my wreath and found that the wonderfully soft and delicate dough didn't show off the interior rings like the other loaves that I have seen.  Still, I love how it turned out.  For the almond paste, I made a half batch of homemade, which was still double what I needed.  I also added a tiny bit of butter/sugar brush for crunch and sparkle, and sliced almonds before baking.  Actually, when I look closer, it is that sugar topping mixture that has puffed during baking and is obscuring the filling rings, along with the almonds.  Oh well, it's still beautiful and I can't wait to dig into this almond filled pastry!

Yule Wreath
makes 1 almond ring loaf

1 package active dry yeast (7 g)
¼ cup (60 ml) lukewarm water (100°F/37°C)
¾ cup (180 ml) lukewarm milk
¼ cup (50 g) sugar I added ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ cup (55 g) butter, softened
1 large egg at room temperature
About 10-15 cardamom pods (optional) I used a heaping tsp of cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (if you do not use the pods, use ½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt
3¼ to 3½ (455 g – 490 g) all-purpose flour I used 2 c all purpose and 1½c + 1 tbsp light spelt

Almond filling:
½ cup (125 g) almond paste (or make your own: In a food processor finely grind 8 oz (225 g) blanched almonds. Process in 8 oz (225 g) powdered sugar. Then knead in 1 egg white. Store in the refrigerator.
¼ cup (60 g) packed brown sugar (I used 30 g light brown and 30 g dark brown sugar)
¼ cup (55 g) softened butter

1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon hot water (helps the sugar clumps dissolve!)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract I used almond extract


Open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds.  Lightly crush them and add them to the milk.  Warm it up just below boiling point.  Cool to lukewarm (about 100°F – 37°C) and strain the seeds out: you don't want the crunchy seeds in your dough.

In the bowl of your mixer (or in a large bowl), dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the milk, sugar, softened butter, egg, ground cardamom and 2 cups of flour (280 g).  Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and then mix in the salt.

Change the paddle to the dough hook.  A little at a time, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough.  Knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all around. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 60-90 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling:
Mix together the almond paste, brown sugar, and softened butter until smooth.

Shaping and Baking:

When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle of about 15 x 9-inches (38x22cm).  Gently spread the filling over the dough leaving ¼-inch border (6 mm) all the way around.

Roll up tightly, beginning at the wide side. Pinch the edges to seal well. Stretch the roll to make it even, and with sealed side down, shape into a ring on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Pinch ends together to complete ring.

With scissors, kitchen shears or a sharp knife, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1-inch intervals (2.5 cm). Then turn each section on its side (90 degree turn), to show off the pretty swirled filling.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 40-50 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350°F (175C°).

Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. (If it browns too quickly, cover loosely with parchment paper or foil).

While the wreath is baking, prepare the glaze.  Keep it well covered or it will dry out.

Once the wreath is baked, carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool down.  Drizzle with glaze and decorate as you wish with nuts, dried fruits, marzipan fruits, sprinkles, or whatever you like.

I am submitting this loaf to Yeastspotting!

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