Rosemary-Thyme & Pecorino Cheese Wreath

November 30, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by lapadia
  • Serves a crowd
Author Notes

Hefenkrantz, a German bread that comes from the edge of the Black Forest and literally means “Yeast Wreath,” it is traditionally sweet bread with raisins.

My adaptation = a savory, edible centerpiece, the wreath shown above was baked for our Christmas dinner one year; I make us one every holiday season and gift a few as well.

After the wreath is baked and cooled it can be wrapped in foil, placed in an airtight plastic bag and frozen until you are ready to give it away. Add some whipped butter on the side and it’s the perfect gift.

Test Kitchen Notes

This was the perfect recipe for those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone has herbs lying around, leftover from stuffing recipes. The baking wreath smells cozy, and when it's done it makes your table look just as festive as the rest of your house. I made the full recipe but split it in half to make two small wreaths, one to eat now and one to freeze for later. As you'd expect, with the dry milk and the butter, it's a tender and finely grained loaf. Mine wasn't as strongly herb-flavored as I'd hoped for, but I played it a little safe in the measurements (especially with the rosemary). Next time I make it—and there will be a next time—I'll go all out. My first loaf has been half dedicated to eating out of hand, and I suspect the remainder will be split between sandwiches and maybe a savory bread pudding. It makes a lot of bread, but trust me—you'll want it all. —emmanation

What You'll Need
  • 2 eggs plus warm water to make up to 2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons micro-plane grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tablespoon, of each, finely minced fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 to 6 cups bread flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for glazing
  • Extra pecorino cheese to scatter on top
  1. In a small bowl, mix the dry milk, salt, malt powder, 2 tablespoons pecorino and rosemary-thyme together and set aside until needed.
  2. Break the eggs into a two-cup measure and fill the balance with warm water. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add and dissolve the agave nectar and yeast. Let sit 5-10 minutes.
  3. When the yeast mixture is bubbly add the dry milk mixture.
  4. Blend in the butter with a wooden spoon as well as you can, it will be lumpy, that’s ok.
  5. Blend in 3 cups of the flour, don’t worry about lumps.
  6. Work in, by hand or with a food processor and dough hook, between 2 & 3 more cups flour, or until you have a soft but workable dough.
  7. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 or 3 minutes. Let the dough rest a couple minutes. Then, continue kneading another 3 or 4 minutes. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled. Punch it down and let it rise again.
  8. After the second rise, punch the dough down, and divide into three even pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 25 to 30 inches long. Lay the ropes side by side, beginning from the middle, and braid one end of the rope then the other. When the second half of the loaf is braided, form a circle, weaving the two ends together as well as you can.
  9. Place the wreath on a large baking sheet lined with greased parchment, cover and let it rise for 45 minutes to an hour. NOTE: I place an inverted, buttered ramekin in the center to leave a space for added decoration.
  10. Before baking, brush the surface with melted butter. Scatter a handful of pecorino cheese over the top.
  11. Place in a COLD oven; turn the temperature to 400 degrees for 15 minutes and down to 350 degrees for a further 25 to 30 minutes.
  12. Immediately after taking out of oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle another handful of Pecorino cheese. Move to a rack to cool.
  13. After thoroughly cooled place in an airtight plastic bag until it is time to serve. This can also be frozen until needed.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lapadia
  • drbabs
  • dymnyno
  • luvcookbooks
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

22 Reviews

lapadia December 16, 2010
Thanks for the wonderful review, emmanation, I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!
emmanation December 9, 2010
I'm reviewing this for the Open House contest and I'm so excited! Question - what do you think of me making two half size ones - one to freeze and one to eat so I can review it? I'd keep an eye on it during baking, obviously, but would you suggest any other changes?
lapadia December 10, 2010
Hi! I wouldn't suggest any other changes, except for the obvious to step 8...after rolling the dough into 25-30 inch logs, just cut them in half and make two smaller wreaths, then check during cooking you already pointed out. It will still be quite large, not to sure the baking time will be that much different. I thought about doing the same! Thanks for choosing my recipe to test! This dough is easy to work with and the wreath freezes well.
drbabs December 7, 2010
I missed this before--it's beautiful. And I can smell it baking!
lapadia December 7, 2010
Thanks, drbabs, it does release a great aroma throughout the kitchen while baking!
dymnyno December 6, 2010
Absolutely the essence of tradition, holiday, beauty, delicious, and love!
lapadia December 6, 2010
Wow, thanks for the comment dymnyno. This is so brought a couple tears to my to you and yours!!
Stockout December 3, 2010
This is impressive lapadia. Just the mention of the Black Forest reminds me of the wonderful blood sausage I ate when I was there. The ice on the trees looked like a true winter wonderland. They were all so neatly lined up in rows and I commented to my hosts how the trees are just like the people, precise, neat and all in their place. This bread is just like that.
lapadia December 3, 2010
Thank so much, Stockout, your comment has made my day...this early in the morning! I am still looking forward to making your cranberry biscotti!
luvcookbooks December 3, 2010
beautiful, saved it, am contemplating next year doing more holiday parties because of all the recipes from this week.
lapadia December 3, 2010
Thanks, luvcookbooks! I am making a couple yeast wreaths for various parties and will be squeezing one in for my own festivities; it would be fun to make one for any F52'er that lived close by too...
spicecat December 2, 2010
Looks so good and very festive. Thank you for sharing.
lapadia December 2, 2010
Thanks, spicecat. I would love to hear back if you try it!
TheWimpyVegetarian November 30, 2010
I love love love sweet yeast breads. This looks great and I love your use of agave nectar, and how you've taken such a great savory twist with it. I can't wait to make this one. I just got the Tartine cookbook and am having such fun looking at all the bread recipes.
lapadia December 1, 2010
Oh! any chance do you live close to the bakery? I love working with yeast breads. With this recipe, I make the sweet version depending on the occasion, you can google Hefenkranz for that version. I lean towards a savory recipe, so came up with this twist. btw - thanks, you asked earlier, and yes, I had a great Thanksgiving, I am sure you did too!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 2, 2010
I don't live that close - I have to go into SF to go, but love their breads. I can't wait to start to test drive some of there recipes. I know I'm baking bread on Sunday, just haven't decided which one to start with!
thirschfeld November 30, 2010
I'm thinkin that looks really tasty.
lapadia November 30, 2010
Tasty it is! Thanks for checking it out, thirschfeld...and now that we have this "wreath" sitting around we are getting ready to grill some burgers and use some slices in place of the buns.
Lizthechef November 30, 2010
Funny, Sagegreen, I was thinking this is your kind of lovely recipe - thumbs up!
lapadia November 30, 2010
Thanks for the comment, Lizthechef! And your note to Sagegreen is making me smile:)
Sagegreen November 30, 2010
I love the herbs with your wreath. Lovely!
lapadia November 30, 2010
Thanks, Sagegreen!