Foodiva's Kitchen: White Chocolate and Cranberry Wreath Bread

Monday, December 19, 2011

White Chocolate and Cranberry Wreath Bread

Break open the forbidden happiness.
~ Rob Brezsny

I suppose I should warn you... this post contains graphic scenes of peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. All in the form of food. So if you're feeling even the slightest bit jaded today, I suggest you proceed to read on with caution or else, come back another day. For this wreath bread is every bit as delicious as it is joyous to look at and what makes it even more splendid is that it is deceptively easy to make. Wish to be the next Bread Idol? Then you should attempt this recipe during the holiday season : ).

Following on from the success of my Happy Bread, a bouquet of pull-apart brioche rolls, I decided to use the same buttery dough and adapt it to the festive atmosphere by adding dried cranberries, candied lemon and orange peel (homemade) and white chocolate chunks. The yeasted wreath idea is nothing new, of course. When I first caught sight of this one on my Bread Idol's blog, Farine, I couldn't get the image out of my mind for weeks and knew I simply had to try making it myself! 

I had plans for a colored, candy-stripey kind of dough but in the end kept it simple as I didn't want any distractions from the decadent flavors. The first wreath bread I made I gave away to a friend, who asked how I created the spiky 'leaves' on the crust to look similar to dragon fruit skin? It was something that never occurred to me before, but once uttered, was all I could think of every time I see the bread spikes....Geez.

As far as I am concerned, you need only three skills to make this incredible bread - kneading, braiding and snipping (with a pair of scissors).  If you're a hairdresser, you're probably already three-quarters on your way towards producing a beautiful wreath bread should you ever want to do so. And oh, you really should want to!

So we've come to the part I have set aside for some reverence and gratitude. I am not kidding when I say how in awe I am of the many, many, MANY people who have pinned (on Pinterest) the picture below and who have baked/are planning to bake this Happy Bread. As a big thank you to you all, I have made a quick video that shows you how the cut dough pieces are magically transformed into the bread bouquet below. Enjoy!

Happy Bread (above) and how-to video (below)


Passion. I've never equated it with anything much to do with romance but love, yes. A grand love for life! And speaking of passion, both my parents have a great love for the land. Or rather, growing things out of it. While it's unfortunate that I have inherited none of their mother earth-nurturing skills, I do have a strong leaning towards organically-grown food. Thinking of pure, unadulterated food makes my heart beat faster than say, thinking about Brad Pitt or (gulp) Paudge Behan.

And so via the sheer luck of it all, I was born to parents who happen to own a rather nifty vegetable patch and also acres of farmland on which to grow rice, or as we call that type of land here, padi fields. Last weekend, I managed to drag my sorry ass away from my hectic life long enough to visit the rice fields situated a few miles from our village. My dad is there everyday to oversee the harvesting season and we all enjoy helping lay out the rice grains for drying under the hot sun. Once dry, the grains will be milled to remove their husks and we'll have a supply of rice to last us until the next harvest, sometime next February/March. We are in the midst of the rainy season here now, so it is crucial to harvest the crop quickly on clear, sunny days. The heat from the sun feels so elusive and precious as gold right now. 

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes...peace, love, joy, passion, reverence, splendor, and understanding. Let's hope I've covered everything! 

P.S. I'm sending this post to Yeastspotting over at Susan's Wild Yeast. She also got married last weekend, so 'love' and 'joy' - double-checked!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Wreath Bread
2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
100ml warm milk
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup candied orange and lemon peel, chopped
1 orange, juiced
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
500g all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and flouring
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
150 ml warm milk (extra)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
100 g butter, melted and cooled

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 100 ml warm milk, cover and leave in a warm place to rise 10 minutes.
2. Soak the cranberries and candied peel in the orange juice in a bowl and leave for at least 1 hour before use.
3. In another bowl, sift the flour and salt together. Make a well in the middle and add beaten eggs into it, the remaining warm milk, olive oil, vinegar and yeast mixture. Knead the dough with your hands or in your mixer until it separates from the sides of the bowl. Remove dough, place on lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it becomes a soft, pliable dough. Place in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume - about an hour.
4. Punch risen dough and transfer on a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each piece of dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with a thickness of 1/4-inch. Brush cooled, melted butter over each piece. Reserve the rest of the butter for later.
5. Drain the soaked dried fruits, mix with the white chocolate and divide into 3 portions. Sprinkle 1/3 of fruits and chocolate on a buttered piece of dough. Press fruits lightly into the dough so they stick. Take the long edge and roll/ shape it into a rough cylinder. Do the same to each of the other 2 dough pieces.
6. Keep on rolling until you get a 30-inch long rope. (Note: It's best to do it in stages: roll out the first one to about 20 inches, then put it back under the plastic sheet and roll the next one, etc. By the time you come back to the first one, it will have slackened some and it'll be easier to get it to the desired length).
7. When you have your three ropes, braid them into a thick plait, then join the ends to make a wreath. Press ends firmly together. Cover with towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 180C. When the dough has risen, brush all over top of the bread with the melted butter. Reserve some butter for when the bread comes out of the oven.
9. Take a pair of scissors and cut 1 to 2-inch "leaves" by snipping horizontally in each section of the braid. (Refer to above video). Continue to snip leaves all around the wreath; the leaves will lift themselves up as the bread bakes.
10. Bake bread for 20-30 minutes, reducing the temperature to 160C after 10 minutes in the oven.
11. Brush bread with the remaining melted butter as soon as it comes out of the oven, cover with a towel and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.


Shoutforfood said...

i like your food pictures

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

I just love your beautiful breads! And this one is perfect for the holidays...and I can never resist white chocolate....mmmmmmmmm.

Unknown said...

@Loveforfood, Hiya! Many thanks for dropping by. :)

Unknown said...

Heya Lizzy, I can't resist white chocolate too. Or any kinds of chocolate, for that matter! :)

Gina Stanley said...

I've baked 5 out of the last 7 days and swore I wasn't turning that oven on again, for this I will make an exception. I just can't decided which one the happy loaf or the wreath, hard choice. Maybe I should make both. That is so awesome you and the kids got to get out to the field and harvest the rice. I've never actually seen it grown before. Now I have something else to look forward too when I come over. If you don't mind cookie crumbs, I'll be happy to ship you as many refills for that calendar if you wish.

Beth Michelle said...

This bread is beyond! I love it! SO pretty and sounds so delicious. I loved watching the video of you making it. Reminds me of a stuffed challah! Beautiful!

Carolyn said...

That is one stunning piece of bread, Maya. And the flavours are so perfect for the holidays. Thank you also for sharing a little glimpse into your life!

Ei said...

That bread is crazy gorgeous! I don't believe you that it's simple. lol Maybe it is, but it sure looks complicated. I want one right now.

janet@fromcupcakestocaviar said...

Beautiful post and beautiful bread. White chocolate and fruit is always such a wonderful combination.

Nancy said...

Wow Maya this is another gorgeous bread just like your Happy bread. I really love watching your videos. That is so cool that your parents harvest your own rice and have all that land. I love the photos. Specially the one with you and your baby, too cute :)

P.S. I am now stalking you on Pinterest :) You can't escape me. Muahahaha!! Lol :)

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Ha as soon as I saw it I thought pull apart bread. It looks so beautiful and amazing how love went into it. So cool to see the rice padi field. Any recipes coming soon with that rice?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Wonderful with white chocolate and cranberries!

Anonymous said...

Stunning! I love this sort of holiday treat! ...and how cool is it that you got to harvest your own rice? Your parents are amazing!

easyfoodsmith said...

Such a gorgeous looking bread! Your bread making skills have left me in awe!

TinaRBK said...

You did a wonderful job on this bread. If I had only half the talent you have shown here, I would be happy. This post was a good read also-harvesting rice would be something I would like to do at least for a day. Great post-enjoy the day!

Kitchen Vignettes said...

I love this post. Thank you for spreading the joy, love, and peace :-) I am fascinated by the rice harvesting process and your beautiful photos! And the happy bread makes me happy just looking at it. Happy holidays!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Maya, you really know how to make beautiful bread. You make it so easy - too easy!! I love the cranberry and white chocolate in it - never had bread like that.

Vicki Bensinger said...

Maya this is beautiful. I just made a bread wreath as well yesterday that I posted. It's similar but I didn't snip mine. I love that idea.

I rarely make bread but have to tell you that I was so excited with how it came out I was like a kid in a candy store showing everyone.

I think I'll try your version next and I'm so happy you posted a video on how you made the Happy Bread which I think is stunning and very HAPPY looking. I especially loved the song you played. I need to look her up on iTunes and order that song. It was beautiful.

Thank you so much for sharing. I'll have to check out vimeo. I've used youtube but like how your videos were done.

Have a wonderful holiday and I hope you're over your the blu's!

Sandra said...

Oh Dear Maya..this looks so beautiful!! Love all your photos and video is a nice touch!!xoxo

Unknown said...

How wonderful Maya! This is graphic scene I thoroughly enjoy! The bread looks utterly beautiful and delicious.
Also, great trip to the padi fields. Full of peace, love, joy and passion indeed!

Torviewtoronto said...

looks like lots of fun Maya lovely pictures
delicious looking bread looks wonderful
happy holidays

Jocie's Mom said...

That is some HAPPY looking bread right there. My tummy is un-joyous because it knows I couldn't bake that if my life depends on it. But luckily, my love-ly friend Prathna can bake like a pro so I'll be forwarding this recipe to her with a hint to invite me over to try it :)


penny aka jeroxie said...

Oh wow! This bread is just beautiful! I want some right now please.

daisy@Nevertoosweet said...

I haven't had the chance to make any bread yet but i can't wait to try and this will definitely be high up on my list! Because I love white chocolate and cranberries hehe and your happy bread is another one that i wana make but i'm worried about the kneading bit :(

Stella said...

I just wanted to say that this bread looks absolutely beautiful! I am off now to look at the rest of your blog!

Best wishes!

wok with ray said...

You are such an expert and able to make everything looks easy! Now if you will rewind the video, I think you missed a spot in the corner of the dough with fewer fillings. :) Well, Maya bread looks amazing and love the rice fields, reminds me of home.

~ ray ~

Kiri W. said...

Looks very pretty! I have never had chocolate bread, very intriguing :)

Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything} said...

Your breads are always stunning Maya! oh, and how lucky you are to harvest your own rice!
happy Holidays!

the [sugar] apothecary said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MAYA! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a very, very happy New Year :)

Mmmmmmm anything starting with homemade candied lemon/orange peel and dried cranberries qualifies as SUPER festive! That wreath looks so buttery and beautiful - You certainly have a way with yeast.

Your padi field adventure looks like so much fun! Only two of three kids went with you?! Sigh. Kids these days! I hope they appreciate how amazing it is that they have the opportunity to experience something like that, raised from beginning to end with love by their family. It looks like they had a blast, and you too!

Peggy said...

I'm so jealous that you all are able to harvest your own rice! My mom would always tell stories of how her family did this when she was a little girl - I've always wondered what it would be like =)

Rosita Vargas said...

Bellas imágenes en su cocina es todo hermoso ,este pan luce absolutamente espectacular su color y preparación,abrazos y felices fiestas.

Tasty Trix said...

Ah, I have not joined pinterest yet as I can barely keep up with social media as it is, BUT that said I can see easily why that gorgeous photo would be pinned by legions of people - dare I say, your adoring fans? Your enthusiasm and lust for life is truly contagious, and it all shows in your superb food!

Jeannie Tay said...

Hi! I am your latest to repin this lovely lovely bread! I will try this wonderful loaf soon! Thanks so much for sharing! love your videos!

Smiley Baker said...

Hi! Great step by step video. Thanks for sharing! I will try this soon.

Liz said...

Wow...found this through Pinterest. This would be a fabulous holiday bread. thanks for the video too! Very wonderful!

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