Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sesame Braided Bread

The nice folks at ViSalus sent me a whole bunch or their products to sample and to cook with. I've been stuffing cookies into my husband's lunch, and I've been playing around with the shake mix.

The shake mix is meant as a weight-control product, and I have to say that a shake made with it is very filling.

But my plan was to use the shake mix as a meal supplement - adding extra nutrition to foods we normally eat. If you recall, my husband needs to gain some weight.

I recently made a bread-machine loaf that I really liked, but I decided to make a bread that was a little more interesting.

This braided bread is similar to a challah, but it's a little softer; not quite as dense. It's really, really good - rich, buttery, eggy, and just a teeny bit sweet.

One reason for this bread's softness is the instant mashed potatoes. Yup. I use instant mashed potatoes quite often in bread. I never use it for making mashed potatoes.

When you buy it for making bread, check the ingredient list. The more expensive brands tend to have flavorings and other ingredients. You don't want that.

The less expensive brands tend to have nothing but dried potatoes - that's exactly what you need. Just potatoes.

Sesame Braided Bread

1 egg, plus water ot make 1 cup
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup ViSalus Vi-Shape shake mix
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) or Quick Shine*
Sesame seeds, as needed

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the egg-and-water, honey, shake mix, yeast, and bread flour. Knead until the mixture is smooth and is becoming elastic.

Add the salt, butter, and mashed potato flakes. Knead slowly at first until the butter is incorporated, then increase the speed and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic, and feels a little "bouncy" if you press it.

Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size - about an hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or sprinkle it with cornmeal.

Flour your work surface, turn out the dough, and divide it into three equal pieces. You don't need to be completely precise, but get the as close to equal as you can.

Roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches long.

Line the three ropes up and pinch the three together at one end. Braid the ropes together and pinch the ends together when you're done.

Transfer the finished braid to the prepared baking sheet. Tuck the pinched ends under and adjust the loaf so it's straight and even. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size - about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the loaf has risen, remove the plastic wrap. Brush the loaf with the egg wash or spray with Quick Shine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees until the loaf is nicely browned, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the loaf to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

*Quick Shine is a baking spray that makes bread shiny and helps seeds stick. Sometimes I use it instead of making an egg wash just to brush one loaf of bread.

This post was sponsored by Visalus.