Monday, December 22, 2008
This wreath is similar to challah in that it, too, is an egg bread, gets braided, and is topped with an egg wash. But I actually found this recipe to be easier than challah (and as you probably know, challah is one of the easiest breads to make). One thing I especially love is that the wreath's first rising is only 10 minutes.
Though the recipe calls for white sugar crystals, I wanted this wreath to be more colorful for a holiday party, and so I opted for green. I could just as easily have gone with blue and white for Hanukkah. What makes this wreath a sugar 'n' spice wreath is that cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are tossed with the sugar crystals before they are sprinkled over the egg wash. This is a winning recipe.
Sugar 'n' Spice Wreath
Recipe adapted from Holiday Brunches (one of those grocery store checkout aisle booklets)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons bread machine or quick active dry yeast
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons white coarse sugar crystals (decorating sugar) or granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes. To this mixture, add sour cream, egg, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Slowly add the last cup of flour until a dough forms.
2. Remove dough from bowl, using lightly floured hands. Knead just until smooth, taking care not to overknead. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.
3. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each third into 26-inch rope; place ropes side by side. Starting at middle, braid one end together gently and loosely; repeat with other end. Pinch ends to fasten. Shape braid into circle on cookie sheet; pinch ends together. (Note: Wreath can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 48 hours. Before baking, remove the wreath from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place about 2 hours or until double.) Cover and let rise in warm place for an hour or until double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush beaten egg over dough. Mix sugar crystals, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; sprinkle over dough. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. 24 servings.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
Knead the dough into a soft mass...
Divide dough into three long ropes and braid...
Shape the braid into a wreath...
Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour...
Combine spices with sugar crystals...
Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the egg wash...
Bake the wreath till golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath...
Slice it up and enjoy!