Celebration Bread

Serves:
1 large loaf.
Prep Time:
Total Time:

Just a moment please...

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An enriched bread that’s sweet and dense and perfect for the holidays. I used dried cranberries and walnuts for this version.

Ingredients

3 Cups (13.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 Teaspoon salt
3 1/2 Teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon or orange extract (I used lemon because I had it.)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup buttermilk or milk at room temperature
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 Cups dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 Cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 to 1/2 Cup water (I used 1/3 cup)
1 egg whisked with 1 Tablespoon water for egg wash

Directions

1) Stir together dry ingredients so they are mixed well. Add wet ingredients and 1/3 cup of water.

2) Turn ball of dough onto a floured surface and start kneading it. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky at all. If it’s too stiff, just need in spoonfuls of water until it softens up a bit. If the dough is too soft, you can knead in some flour.

3) Knead in cranberries and walnuts.

4) Add dough to a lightly oiled bowl (turn the dough ball around so the entire thing is lightly covered in oil) and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until it at least doubles in size in a bowl loosely covered with plastic wrap.

5) Divide the dough into six pieces. You need three larger pieces that should be 9-10 ounces in weight and then three smaller pieces that are closer to 4 ounces in weight.

6) Take three large strands and roll them out to be about 12 inches long and even diameter. Set all the strands out on a baking sheet with parchment paper so they are parallel to each other. Then, starting in the middle, take the strand on the far right and put it over the middle strand and under the left strand.

7) Braid the bread. Take the outside strand and wrap it over the center strand. Continue to braid the outside strand over the middle until that side is done. Pinch the three strands together so they don’t come apart in the oven. Turn loaf around and then braid the other end.

8) Make the exact same braid structure with the smaller three dough pieces. Instead of rolling them out to be 12 inches though, they should be 8-10 inches long. Braid them the exact same way though.

9) Set the smaller braided piece on top of the larger one. Brush the entire loaf with your egg wash and then let it rise a second time for about 90 minutes.

10) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. After 90 minute rise, brush the loaf a second time with egg wash.

11) Bake the bread on the same baking sheet with parchment paper for 50-60 minutes, rotating the bread halfway through so it cooks evenly.

12) Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.