The host of this months Bread Baking Babes is Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups and since they posted on the 16th it also coincided with world bread day. Being a buddy we were requested to bake this by the 26th, which is today…. I actually baked this last week… I just didn’t get off my ass and post it…. I am happy to say though that the huge outdoor art project that I have been working on at Scarlet’s school is finally finished as of 2 days ago so I can start getting back to my life…..
I was excited to see this bread since I have had my eye on a similar bread made with the exact same method. The technique is pretty simple to master and the final outcome is gorgeous. The filling choices are endless with only your own imagination holding you back. Please make sure you go and check out the roundup on Tanna’s page for some great ideas to inspire and tempt you.
For my filling I chose tomato jam mixed with sour cream, minced garlic and fresh rosemary. This bread is similar to Povitica in that the dough is thinly rolled out, filled, and then rolled up, jelly roll style. That is where this bread takes a twisty turn! You slice down the middle of your roll, lengthwise, exposing the inside layers (kind of like a leek) and then gently twist or braid these together. I found that I was nervous about slicing this open with such a moist filling that I covered the very long rolled rope and place it outside for 40 minutes to firm up. Oh, did I forget to mention that we have about 7 inches of snow on the ground right now? And that it is about -7C???? It’s my own giant freezer out there. You warm lucky ones could just use the freezer in your kitchen for this but I actually found it much more convenient considering the length of my rope. Next time I think I will roll up the short end instead to make life easier. I can’t wait to try this again filled with pesto or a roasted garlic-walnut paste. Maybe even some sriracha, one of Lisa’s favorite fillings….. Bake on my friends!
Russian Braid Braid
Recipe Adapted from The Fresh Loaf
Makes one large loaf
400 grams all-purpose flour
200 grams white whole wheat flour (total flour should equal 600 grams – try different combinations)
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1 heaping tablespoon dry yeast
10 grams Sugar 10g (0.35oz)
10 grams Salt 10g (0.35oz)
50 grams olive oil 50cc (1.7 fl oz)
1 tablespoon White Vinegar, I used white Balsamic Vinegar in my 2nd loaf
450 – 500 grams Water (10 fl oz) (I used potato water)
– Filling – whatever you want
Take a 8″ springform pan (no bottom) and place a piece of parchment paper inside of it.Crimp tightly around the bottom of the springform, oil the sides. Place on top of a baking sheet.
Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, add the water carefully as you start mixing. I have my standing mixer on low when doing this and I used all of the water since I live in a dry climate. Add water or flour if dough is too stiff or too loose (respectively).Knead for 10 minutes. Dough should be supple and not sticky to the touch. When dough is ready, spray a bowl with oil and gently put the dough in the bowl. Spray a little more oil on top and cover. Let rise (80%) about 40 minutes to an hour.
Lightly flour your work area. Flatten the dough gently with your hands. Roll the dough as thin as you can using a floured rolling-pin. When rolling out the dough, try not to lift and move it too much. It rolls quite easily so don’t panic.
Apply a thin layer of your filling (remember, it’s your choice) on top of the dough but leave an edge of about 1/4 inch. Slowly, tightly and very gently roll the dough into a pin wheel. It will be very long when completed. Place in the freezer, if possible, for about 45 minutes to firm up. It makes cutting it so much easier. Take a sharp chef’s knife (not a serrated knife) and cut the roll lengthwise trying to keep the knife in the middle so you end up with two equal parts. Place the two halves crossing each other (cut layers facing up) to create and X shape. Gently pick up the two ends of the bottom half, cross them over the top half, and place them back down. Continue this process, taking the two bottom ends and crossing them over the top until all the dough has been used.You now have a two strand rope shape. If for some reason some of the open layers are pointing down or sideways, carefully turn them so they are facing up. Gently pinch the ends to seal. Look at the braid. If one end looks a little thinner make that your starting point. If not, just start from either end. Slowly and very gently, roll the braid sideways (horizontally) without lifting your hands from the table. You should keep those open layers facing up. Pinch the end delicately. The end result should look like a giant snail shell . Depending on your filling you may want to sprinkle on something (rosemary,garlic, brown sugar & cinnamon). Keep in mind you don’t want to cover up the effect of the shaping. Carefully pick up the braid and place in the prepared springform. Keep it flat on the parchment. The bottom of the braid should set nicely. Before you start panicking about this, please Ciril Hitz’s YouTube video and it will ease your mind.
Cover. Let rise until the braid hits three quarters the way up the springform. Depending upon the temp in your kitchen this may take from 20 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425F.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F for another 25-30 minutes. When removed from the oven feel free to brush the loaf with some melted butter or olive oil (I did neither)