A beautiful dough to work with, a tasty filling, a simple braid= a beautiful loaf
After making challah bread last month with a six strand braid, a three strand braid seemed like child’s play. I say that because the six strand was easy once you got the hang of it (If I can do, you can do it). This particular bread had caught my eye last month after I picked up the book Baking Bread, Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger at the Calgary Heralds annual book sale. This is a great book sale with the proceeds going to support Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary and the Calgary Herald literacy programs. I got this book for $2! It’s filled with many recipes that I am eager to try over the year.
I really wanted to try this one and we were having a BBQ so I thought it would be perfect to serve along with dinner:
thinly sliced marinated flank steak over a bed of arugula
lemon spiced chicken drumsticks
sofrito scented pork burgers
chorizo sausage over peppers and onions
watermelon and feta salad
sliced avocados and tomatoes
It was very well received indeed and I would make this again for sure. I will say that next time I will make this as 2 smaller loaves since this made 1 giant loaf. Great for a crowd but too overwhelming for a small family! This is excellent bread for sandwiches (especially egg salad) or as toast as well. Bake on!
Onion and Poppy Seed Braid
one large or 2 small loaves
1 Tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
3 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Cup hot milk (120F)
1/2 Cup hot water (120F)
1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Cups chopped sweet onion, preferably Vidalia
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
5 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 egg white, mixed with 1 teaspoon water for glaze
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds for sprinkling
Place the yeast, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour in your mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low-speed until a smooth batter is achieved. Add the egg and the butter and mix to incorporate. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is achieved (since I live in a dry climate I always use the lesser amount but humid areas tend to use the full amount). Knead for 10 minutes. Place into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
* remember, while a standing mixer is a great help, you can make any bread by hand (and get good arm muscles along the way). Do not let the lack of a mixer stand between you and good bread!
While the dough is rising prepare the filling:
Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute them until wilted and translucent. Do not let the onions brown as this will make the bread taste bitter. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese and poppy seeds. Set aside to cool.
When the dough is ready transfer it to a lightly floured board and roll out to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Cut it into three, 4 inch strips. Place 1/3 of the filling in a thin strip down the middle of each strip, leaving a border around all the edges.
Fold over the edges and pinch them together, encasing the filling. Carefully transfer the long strips onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pinch the top of the strands together and braid, pinching the ends together when you get to the end, tucking the ends in for a neat finish. Set aside to rise again for 30 minutes
Preheat your oven to 350F
Right before placing the bread into the oven, lightly brush the top with the egg white and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.