Whether they call it babka, stollen, panettone, king cake, cozonac, kringle, lussebulle or challah, people around the world use rich, festive breads to celebrate holidays.
Many of the breads are dense with fruit, nuts and spices. They can be glazed, sugared, topped with streusel or nuts, or decorated with candied fruits. They may be braided or woven, logs or loaves. But whatever their shape or seasoning, they taste of celebration and joy.
And so we decided to create a holiday bread that reflects America's fusion of cultures. We drew on the recipes and traditions of numerous holiday breads to bake one that will seem at once familiar and fresh. And because holidays and their food are meant to be shared with loved ones, we made it big.
Really big. And really good. So bake it and share it.
American Holiday Wreath Bread
Start to finish: 7 hours (1 hour active)
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
- Hearty pinch saffron threads, crushed
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) instant (also called fast-rise) yeast
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) honey
- 75 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable or canola oil
- 3 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 10 ml (2 tsp) salt
- 2 ml (1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
- 2 l (8 cups) bread flour
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) golden raisins
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) dried cranberries
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) candied ginger, chopped
- 1 pkg (250 g/8 oz) cream cheese
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ml (1/4 tsp) lemon zest
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 175 ml (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 7 ml (1/2 tbsp) cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 90 ml (6 tbsp) unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut in chunks
- 1 egg, beaten with 5 ml (1 tsp) water
- 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) heavy cream
- 5 ml (1 tsp) almond extract
1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine water and saffron. Microwave on high until boiling, then set aside to cool.
2. Once cooled, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine saffron water, milk, yeast, honey, oil, eggs, yolks, salt, cardamom, cinnamon and flour. Using dough hook attachment, mix on low until a soft dough forms. Continue mixing on low to knead for 6 to 7 minutes.
3. Add raisins, cranberries, hazelnuts and ginger, then knead until incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 2 hours. The dough also can be placed in the refrigerator and allowed to rest overnight.
4. Shortly before dough has finished resting, make cream cheese filling and streusel topping.
1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together cream cheese and sugar until well combined and lump-free. Add egg and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Set aside.
1. In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and rub together until it has all been incorporated and crumbs have all been moistened.
2. When dough has finished resting, it should be doubled in size and quite puffy. Coat a large baking pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
3. Roll dough into a 60-by-45-cm (24-by-18-inch) rectangle. Spread cream cheese filling over surface, leaving a 5-cm (2-inch) strip of uncovered dough along the long side farthest from you.
4. Starting with the side closest to you, roll dough up to form a long log. Slightly moisten edge of dough and pinch to seal. Keeping sealed edge of log on bottom, move dough to prepared sheet pan. Bring ends together to form a large circle, then insert one end into the other end to seal. The wreath should be about 30 cm (12 inches) across.
5. Paint wreath all over with beaten egg, then top with streusel mixture, patting it into place with your hands. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let rest for an hour or until risen and puffy.
6. After about 45 minutes of rising, heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
7. Use a sharp knife to make about 6 slashes around top of bread. Bake for 1 hour or until a deep golden colour. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely. Once cooled, prepare icing. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cream and almond extract. Drizzle over loaf.
Makes 1 large loaf (about 24 servings).
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 421 calories; 131 calories from fat (31 per cent of total calories); 15 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 64 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 2 g fibre; 225 mg sodium.