How was your Christmas? Mine was filled with ham, turkey, gravlax, pavlova, fruit cake and more. It was a weekend of feasting, but as Master Six intoned to me solemnly on Christmas morning, "Christmas is not about presents. It's about spending time with your family."
And so there was eating and drinking, and then jumping on the trampoline and playing Snap with the kids. Everyone brought a dish for Christmas lunch, and I arrived with two holiday wreath breads, an idea I'd been fascinated by ever since I'd had it at Billy's Christmas in July dinner.
I used Billy's recipe which was adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver to which I added my own alterations, rolling the dough in sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and colour, and adding a tray of water at the bottom of the oven to give a crust. I also included the extra virgin olive oil that appears in the Jamie at Home recipe for this basic dough.
Holiday Wreath Bread
(based on recipes by A Table for Two and Jamie Oliver)
This is a great basic bread recipe that can be used to make pizza dough or bread. Shaping it into a holiday wreath bread is an easy way to impress your guests or host. You can roll the dough in any mix of sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds or sunflower seeds, but I think pumpkin seeds are the most festive, the green seeds looking just like leaves. Just before serving, pop the bread into a hot oven for a few minutes to warm.
1kg/ just over 2lbs strong bread flour (or use plain flour and 2 tablespoons of bread improver)
30g/1oz fresh yeast, 3 x 7g/¼oz sachets dried yeast or 4 teaspoons instant dried yeast granules
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
625ml/1 pint warm water
extra flour for dusting
sesame seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
- If using a mixer with dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil in a bowl. Turn on the mixer at a low speed and slowly add the water into the bowl. Continue mixing until all the ingredients have come together into a sticky dough.
- If making the dough by hand, place the flour onto a clean surface and make a large well in the centre. Pour half the water into the well, add the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil and use your hand to slowly bring the inner wall of flour into the centre. Slowly add the rest of the water until all the flour has been incorporated into a sticky dough.
- Knead the dough on a clean floured surface for about five minutes until it starts to feel smooth and elastic. You may need to add a little more flour or water (flours vary and humidity can also affect doughs).
- Place the dough into a large lightly floured bowl and cover with clingfilm or a tea towel for the first prove. Leave the bowl in a warm draught-free spot for about an hour. My foolproof way to prove dough: I place the bowl in a sink filled with 5-10cm of warm water.
- When the dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and knead again on a floured surface. Split the dough into the size you prefer. I found the best size wreath is made using 2/3 of this dough, mainly because of the size of my oven and tray. Otherwise you can make two small wreaths by splitting the dough into two, or keep it whole for a giant wreath.
- Shape the dough into a bun shape and then use your fingers to poke a hole into the middle to create a donut. Stretch the dough out into a large ring - I found holding it vertically and allowing gravity to pull down the dough was most effective,
- Brush the surface of the dough lightly with water and then placed upside down on a tray covered with sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds. Gently move the dough around to make sure the surface is encrusted. You may wish to coat both sides with seeds (I did this on my next batch).
- Gently manouevre the dough ring to a floured tray (I used an upturned pizza tray) and allow to rest for thirty minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 230C/445F.
- After thirty minutes, the dough should have expanded and risen. Use a pair of scissors to make a deep-angled cut into the dough, and then lift the cut piece up and outward to create a fanned effect. Continue around the ring until complete.
- Bake the dough for about 25-30 minutes or until the loaves have turned golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Serve with lots of butter.
13 comments - Add some comment love
12/27/2010 01:23:00 am