Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Bread Wreath from King Arthur Flour

I wanted to publish this before the spring holidays (Easter and Passover), but I just didn't have enough time.  Also, this recipe took a long time to make.  So before I show you the recipe, you might need a day or two to make this bread.  I found this recipe in one of the King Arthur Flour catalogs, and found the full recipe on their blog.  This was the first time I ever used yeast.  I thought it would be terrible, remembering an "I Love Lucy" episode when Lucy baked bread and it rose too high and became too thick.  I thought it would take over my oven, but that wasn't the case.  So I'll probably be baking more yeast breads in the future. 

Here's what you'll need:
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 2 1/8 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange oil (or extract, I used Penzeys' Orange Extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional 
  • grated peel (zest) of 1 large orange (I used 2 tablespoons of Penzeys' Orange Zest)
  • 1 cup of confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or orange juice (I used juice)
  • Little multicolored nonpareils (sprinkles)
To start the bread, you'll need to leave out 1 cup of flour, the cool water and 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast covered lightly and left out on the counter overnight.  
The next day add 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, egg yolk, extracts, anise seed (if you are using) and zest to the starter.
Mix and knead using an electric mixer until the dough is elastic and satiny (as KAF states). 
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, it might take longer than this to rise.  I left mine out overnight on the counter. 
It looked like the above picture the next morning.  Now divide the dough in three equal sized portions and shape each piece into an 18-inch long rope.  Pinch the ends together, squeeze to a point, and tuck that point under the braid.  To form the braid, bring one of the outer ropes over the center rope.  Bring the opposite outer rope over the "new" inner rope (which used to be the outer rope).  Repeat until the braid is finished.
Curve the braid to a ring and pinch the ends to seal.
Cover the wreath and allow to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours.  Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the wreath for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes, lightly foiling it for the final 10 minutes of baking.  The wreath will be golden brown. 
Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.  When cooled or just barely warm, start making the glaze.

To make the glaze, stir together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons milk or orange juice.  Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable. 
Drizzle onto the cooled bread and decorate with sprinkles if desired.  Serve it at your next Easter dinner and enjoy! 


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