Bread

On the tenth day…Snowflake Loaf

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On the tenth day of Christmas Stephen baked for me…a Snowflake Loaf! The big day is getting very close now and in my house the food prep has started already. Just the other day I paid a visit to my friends farm to ‘prepare’ our turkey. I’ll let you guys take that how you wish! So things are in full swing and I’m getting excited so it’s time to start thinking of ways to really impress your guests. Thus we have my Snowflake Loaf!

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Recently I have been researching different bread art techniques from all over the world. It’s really inspiring to see how other countries decorate their loaves-sometimes on a daily basis. I first tried a similar design to this one a few weeks ago and so pleased with the results that I knew I would be making one again.

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The dough is a simple Challah one which is a traditional Jewish loaf (usually eaten around passover) which has a lovely chewy texture and slight sweetness. Apart from the decoration of this loaf Christmas comes in the form of the filling, a sweet and spicy cinnamon, cardamon and raisin one. Cinnamon and raisin buns are hugely popular around my parts so I knew it would be a great flavour combination to include, but I substituted half of the cinnamon with cardamon to give it a bit of a twist.

You will need:

500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
25g caster sugar
10g yeast
30g unsalted butter, softened
50ml warm milk
2 medium eggs, beaten
180ml water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamon, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg
75 butter, softened
50g dark brown soft sugar
50g raisins

2tbsp apricot jam
200g icing sugar

How to do it:

1. Place the flour into a large bowl then add the sugar and salt to one side and the yeast to another. Melt the butter into the milk then add to the flour mixture along with the eggs and 1/2 of the water. Mix with your hands until the dough starts to come together adding more water as you need. You may need all or even more of the water depending on the type of flour you have but just mix until you have a soft a shaggy dough.
2. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic then cover and leave to rise for 1-2 hours or until double in size. Meanwhile mix the spices together in a bowl then add the the butter and sugar and cream together until light and slightly paler in colour.
3. When the dough has double in size knock back and divide into 4 equal portions. Roll the first portion out into a circle about 30cm in diameter. Spread over 1/3 of the cinnamon butter mix in an even layer leaving 1/2 cm gap at the edges.
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Place into the fridge whilst you roll out the next portion into another circle.
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Lay this on top, repeat the spreading of the cinnamon butter but this time scatter over all of the raisins.
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Repeat this for the next 2 portions of dough but leave the final layer clean from any of the cinnamon butter on top.
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Chill for at least 20 minutes.
4. This is the fun part! If you want to see a video on how to do a similar design click here. Using a pizza cutter make 5 long slits from the edges almost right to the centre as shown.
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Now make 2 slits on either side of the 5 you have made this time don’t go in to the centre as far.
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Find one of the original slits, lift the dough on either side and twist them 2 1/2 times pressing the dough together at the end.
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Repeat this the whole way round. By the end you should have 5 narrow triangles sticking out.
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Using scissors slit make 4 small cuts from the centre outward.
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5. Prove for 1 hour or until doubles in size. Towards the end of the proving time preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan. When read throw in a cup of cold water to the base of the oven to create steam and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
6. Place the apricot jam in a pan along with some water and heat until very loose. Spread this over the still warm loaf to glaze.
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When the loaf is cold mix the icing sugar with some water or lemon juice to make a loose but pipeable icing. Highlight the lines of the loaf to make it look like a snowflake.

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A little more challenging today but it’s certainly worth the effort. How stunning does that look! It’s almost a shame to eat it but let me tell you that this tastes just wonderful! The cardamon really compliments the cinnamon in this loaf bringing a slight perfume hint. The crumb of the Challah bread is beautifully soft and welcomes the sweetness from the filling wonderfully.

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The one thing I will say is that chilling in between the steps is crucial. As people’s heating will be on a little higher now that the wintery weather has arrived the dough and filling need some time to relax between steps in order for you to be able to work it in such a unique way.

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This would make an amazing centrepiece for your Christmas table or even for when you’re having guests over this Christmas. It’s definitely worth putting in the extra effort!

Thanks for visiting,

Stephen

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