This Sweet Yeasted Bread is Everything You've Wished For (& 3 Variations)

February 28, 2016

I almost don't know how to begin telling you about this bread. Okay, no—I do: It's phenomenal. It fulfills the rare baking trifecta of delicious-tasting, impressive-looking, and easy to execute.

Let me pause there. This is a yeast bread with some shaping required, so if your definition of "easy" means boxed cake mix, then this is not easy. But as shaped sweet breads go, this dough is mellow and simple to handle.

The addition of sour cream, eggs, butter, and evaporated milk makes it rich without being sticky. I've made my fair share of braided breads and brioche doughs that just didn't turn out: They felt finicky, or required candy thermometers, or had filling that spilled out as they baked.

So this recipe felt like a breath of fresh air: a pleasure to make and a joy to eat. The original comes from Land O'Lakes: a cardamom-scented braided loaf filled with a brandied apricot mixture. The bread manages to be both airy and moist, with a crumb that's tight but still quite delicate.

You'll split the dough into three long rectangles, fill each with a quick brandy and apricot jam, then pinch and seal them to create three strands. Braided together and shaped into a circle, the strands make a pretty wreath shape. I like to brush the loaf with an egg wash to get a golden crust, and if you want to go all out, sprinkle some Swedish pearl sugar over the top, too.

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After just one bite, I loved the dough so much that I went back and created two more variations with it as my foundation. But instead of making more loaves, I decided to slice the dough into thin strands, spread the filling over the dough, and then twist it into little intricate rolls.

I filled one with cinnamon sugar and one with tahini, brown sugar, and toasted sesame seeds. Think of the options! You could fill yours with chopped dark chocolate and coconut, Nutella, a thick raspberry jam, or almond paste.

Don't be intimidated by the look of the rolls. To create the complicated twist, you'll take a strip of filled dough and wrap it twice around your first two fingers, then tuck the ends inside the roll. The most important thing to remember? Rich, sweet, delicate dough smothered in a cinnamon sugar paste is going to taste pretty exceptional, no matter how it looks. So go for it!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.

1 Comment

702551 February 28, 2016
I would combine "delicious-tasting" and "impressive-looking" together. I realize that they are discrete elements but if you want to boil things down to three-part simplicity, this is the cut-off point, since one always needs to include COST.

You can pretty much do whatever you want on this planet if COST is no object, but for the vast majority this planet's inhabitants, COST is a significant factor, something that Harwood ignores.

This would end up with a real world trifecta of Good, Cheap, and Fast. One normally picks two of the three.