I love making these kinds of breakfast breads, leaving them on the kitchen counter and letting everyone nibble on them for a couple of days. These breads really are not hard to make - this kind of sweet dough is very easy to work with and you can make the fillings with lots of different things to suit your own taste. This version is with dried cranberries, walnuts and some orange zest.
This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour and if you have never been to their site, you should check it out. It's full of great recipes and baking tips. There is an unusual ingredient in this recipe - Fiori di Sicilia - which they sell. It is a combination of vanilla extract and citrus and it's awesome! It smells wonderful and adds a little more citrus kick to whatever you're baking. If you don't want to buy this ingredient, just use regular vanilla extract in the recipe but if you do want to try it, I highly recommend it.
Don't be intimidated by the fact that this recipe uses a "starter". It's just a little dough that you make up ahead of time and let sit and it builds flavor for the main dough. It's worth doing and it's super easy.
After the dough has risen, you divide it into thirds and roll out the pieces into rectangles. You spread the filling on each rectangle, roll it up like a log and then just braid them together. I guarantee this bread will be a hit when you serve it!
Cranberry Orange Braided Bread
for a printable recipe, click here
The recipe calls for you to make the starter and leave it to sit overnight. That develops more flavor. However, if you can't do this (or forget to do this) you can indeed make the starter and just let it sit for as long as you possibly can (at least an hour at the minimum).
Feel free to swap out the filling ingredients for other fruits and nuts that you like.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup cool water
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- ¼ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavor*
- grated peel (zested) of 1 large orange
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¾ cup walnuts
- ½ cup brown sugar
- pearl sugar or sparkling sugar, for decorating
1) To make the starter: Combine the starter ingredients, cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.
2) To make the dough: Mix the starter with the dough ingredients, kneading until elastic and satiny (I did this in my KitchenAid mixer bowl with a dough hook). Let the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.
3) Divide the dough into three pieces. Flatten each piece into a 6" x 12" rectangle.
4) Mix the filling ingredients together, and spread each rectangle with some of the filling.
5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Starting with a long edge, roll each rectangle into a log. Braid the logs together on the parchment paper.
6) Cover the braid, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until puffy.
7) Preheat the oven to 350°F.
8) Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with pearl or sparkling sugar.
9) Bake the braid for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.
10) Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
Yield: one 12" to 14" loaf.
* if you don't have this ingredient, replace it with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
from King Arthur Flour