Remember those “mouth-watering and beautiful” breads I mentioned last week? I couldn’t stand to keep you in suspense for much longer, so I’m here to share my new favorite bread recipe with you.
This bread was meant to be my October submission to Cake Duchess’s 12 Loaves challenge, which called for home made bread with “nuts, seeds, or grains,” but it never made it on to the blog. I made it again for Thanksgiving, but still neglected to get it online. Well the time has finally come, and I promise that it was worth the wait.
This hearty Russian Rose bread can be customized in infinite ways, making it perfect for every pallet and occasion. I filled my loaf with cinnamon, sugar, and slivered almonds, which is fairly traditional for this bread (and where it derives it’s alternate name, a Cinnamon Wreath), but you can make any filling your heart desires and it will bake up beautifully. A quick search turns up gorgeous Rose breads stuffed with pesto and Parmesan; garlic, rosemary, and onions; ham, cheese, and chives; and chocolate with walnuts.
It’s also one of the most beautiful loaves I’ve ever seen. Everyone will think you’re a master baker, but it is easy enough to be your first at-home loaf. Really! The most difficult part is keeping the filling from spilling out while forming the rose, but any overflow can easily be stuffed back into the loaf or, even better, directly into your mouth. Not that I’m guilty of snacking on an errant almond…
This bread would be the star of your holiday table, but also makes a wonderful addition to any dinner or a wonderful breakfast all by itself. Depending on your filling, you could toast it with butter or slice it for sandwiches. It’s also a gorgeous hostess gift that’s sure to be appreciated, assuming you can bear to give it away!
Russian Rose Bread
Originally from My Diverse Kitchen
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 1/4 teaspoons (or one packet) dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/4 cup warm water
2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
2 ounces sliced almonds
Put all the dough ingredients except for the vinegar and the water into your mixer bowl and pulse to combine. Alternatively, you may mix by hand. Add the vinegar to the water, then add the mixture to the dough. Mix (or knead by hand) until a smooth, elastic, and non-sticky dough forms. Add a little water or flour if necessary to achieve the proper consistency.
Gently shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough until well coated with oil, press slightly into a rectangle, and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled, approximately 45-60 minutes.
After rising, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough gently, then roll out into a large, thin rectangle. Thinner dough will yield more “petals” in your final loaf, but if you are using heavier ingredients in your filling, leave the dough a little thicker.
Spread your filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1/4 inch border on all sides. If using the filling above: mix sugar and cinnamon powder together. Brush melted butter over the entire surface of the rectangle, then sprinkle cinnamon sugar uniformly over the bread. Top with sliced almonds.
Roll the dough along its long edge, gently forming a tight pinwheel or roulade. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut through the length of the dough, separating it into two long halves. Trying to cut through the center of your roulade to form two equal parts; I like to use the seam as a guide. Once separated, turn the two halves so the cut edge faces up, exposing the layers of dough and filling.
Starting at one end of the dough, begin to form your loaf. Cross one half of your dough over the other, open layers facing up, to create an “X.” Gently pick up the bottom piece and cross it over the top piece, making a second “x.” Continue in this manner to form a long, braided rope. When you finish the braid, pinch the dough together at both ends. If any of the open roulade layers are pointing down or sideways, gently turn them to face up.
If your rope has a thinner end, start with that. Keeping the dough flat, begin to roll the braid into itself along the long edge, forming a circle. Do not lift the dough of your hands from the table, and try keep the open roulade layers facing up. At the end of your circle, gently tuck the end of the rope under the wreath. Oil and flour a 9″ cake pan, line with parchment paper, and oil again. Place the wreath in the pan, then cover with a kitchen towel and let allow the bread to rise for 20 to 40 minutes.
At the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the wreath for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until evenly browned and done. Cool on a wire rack.