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DOUGHY DELIGHT. Flavorful holiday breads are a tradition for many. A holiday bread that reflects America’s fusion of cultures — American Holiday Wreath Bread — could be a start to a new tradition this holiday. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
From The Asian Reporter, V20, #30 (December 20, 2010), page 14.
Celebrate the holidays with a fusion of festive breads
By Alison Ladman
For The Associated Press
Whether they call it babka, stollen, panettone, king cake, cozonac, kringle, lussebulle, or challah, people around the world use rich, festive breads to celebrate holidays.
Many of the breads are dense with fruit, nuts, and spices. They can be glazed, sugared, topped with streusel or nuts, or decorated with candied fruits. They may be braided or woven, logs or loaves. But whatever their shape or seasoning, they taste of celebration and joy.
And so we decided to create a holiday bread that reflects America’s fusion of cultures. We drew on the recipes and traditions of numerous holiday breads to bake one that will seem at once familiar and fresh. And because holidays and their food are meant to be shared with loved ones, we made it big.
Really big. And really good. So bake it and share it.
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American Holiday Wreath Bread
Start to finish: 7 hours (1 hour active)
Makes 1 large loaf (about 24 servings)
For the dough:
1/2 cup water
Hearty pinch of saffron threads, crushed
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon instant (also called fast-rise) yeast
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 cups bread flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
For the filling:
8-ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
For the icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the water and the saffron. Microwave on high until boiling, then set aside to cool.
Once cooled, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the saffron water, milk, yeast, honey, oil, eggs, yolks, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and flour. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low until a soft dough forms. Continue mixing on low to knead for six to seven minutes.
Add the raisins, cranberries, hazelnuts, and ginger, then knead until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for two hours. The dough can also be placed in the refrigerator and allowed to rest overnight.
Shortly before the dough has finished resting, make the cream cheese filling and the streusel topping.
To make the filling, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the cream cheese and sugar until well combined and lump-free. Add the egg and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Set aside.
To make the streusel topping, in a medium bowl combine both sugars, the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and rub together until it has all been incorporated and the crumbs have all been moistened.
When the dough has finished resting, it should be doubled in size and quite puffy. Coat a large baking pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough into a 24" x 18" rectangle. Spread the cream cheese filling over the surface, leaving a two-inch strip of uncovered dough along the long side farthest from you.
Starting with the side closest to you, roll the dough up to form a long log. Slightly moisten the edge of the dough and pinch to seal. Keeping the sealed edge of the log on the bottom, move the dough to the prepared sheet pan. Bring the ends together to form a large circle, then insert one end into the other end to seal. The wreath should be about 12 inches across.
Paint the wreath all over with the beaten egg, then top with the streusel mixture, patting it into place with your hands. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let rest for an hour or until risen and puffy.
After about 45 minutes of rising, heat the oven to 350º F.
Use a sharp knife to make about six slashes around the top of the bread. Bake for one hour, or until a deep golden color. Allow to cool for five minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, prepare the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, and almond extract. Drizzle over the loaf.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 421 calories (131 calories from fat, 31 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (6 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 64 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 2 g fiber; 225 mg sodium.
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