Friday, December 13, 2013

White Wheat Holiday Wreath Bread

I've become enamored lately with decorative breads, and this time around I decided to make an oval wreath shape with a pretty border. Filled with cheese, tomato, and basil, the flavor is reminiscent of pizza, and the colors evoke Christmas.

If the shape looks intimidating, don't worry about it - it's really not that hard. Just take it one step at a time, and you'll have an impressive bread.

This time I made an oval. You could make it round, if you like. If you're really brave, you could make a long oval, then flip half of it over to make a figure-8. But I'd wait to do that until you've got the basics covered.

White wheat flour is one of my new favorites. It's got all the health benefits of regular whole wheat, but since it's made from white wheat instead of red wheat, it's not as bitter - the red pigment carries that bitter flavor that many people associate with whole wheat products, so the white wheat seems sweeter in comparison. If you haven't tried it yet, I suggest you do.

This recipe is part of a contest sponsored by Hodgson Mill as part of their "25 days of Grain Holiday Sweepstakes" promotion. I was provided with product to work with, a giveaway for my readers, and a chance to win prizes - but don't fret - I'm not going to ask you to vote - winners are chosen by Hodgson Mill.

But I have something for you - everyone can get a $1 off coupon for Hodgson Mill products here. And Hodgson Mill is giving away prizes here.

Hodgson Mill is also offering a prize for one of my readers - an assortment of their products valued at $25. AND you can specify gluten-free or regular. Details of that after the recipe.

White Wheat Holiday Wreath Bread

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) Hodgson Mill White Wheat Flour
1 cup Hodgson Mill Organic Naturally White Unbleached Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the filling:
1/4 cup basil pesto*
1/2 cup tomato caponata**
4 ounces lowfat, low moisture mozzarella cheese

Have a half-sheet baking pan and a sheet of parchment to fit the pan standing by.

Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer while you gather the rest of the dough ingredients. Add the flours and salt and knead with the dough hook until the mixture becomes elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the oil is incorporated. You can also knead by hand, if you prefer.

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

Flour your work surface lightly, turn out the dough, and form it into a log shape. Roll the log to about 12 inches long, like a kid making a snake from clay.

Using a rolling pin, roll the log to 18 inches long by 9 inches wide. Don't fret if it's not exact. Just get it close.

With one of the long sides facing you, dollop the basil pesto onto the bottom half of the dough. You're not trying to cover the whole surface - instead, spread it on in stripes or dots, as you prefer. Dollop the tomato caponata onto the bottom half of the dough in between the basil pesto. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the tomato and basil.

Fold the uncovered top half of the dough over the covered half. Seal the edges of the dough. It doesn't have to be a super-secure seal, but if it's somewhat sealed, it will help with the next steps.

Transfer the dough to the sheet of parchment, then grab the ends and form a circle or oval, with the folded side on the inside of the circle and the open end at the outside of the circle. Seal the ends together. If your circle is too large to fit onto the parchment, you can overlap the ends.

Using a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or sharp knife, cut slits in the dough about 1 inch apart, from the outside edge of the dough to about 1 inch from the folded edge. One at a time, take the strips you've cut and twist them 2-3 times to make a spiral. For my dough, I twisted one to the right and the next to the left, continuing around the circle in that pattern. But if you like, you can twist them all in the same direction.

When all the strips have been twisted, slide the parchment onto the baking sheet.

Now's the time to even out the dough and nudge it into its final shape. Make sure you leave a little space at the edges of the pan for it to rise and expand.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap - or what I do is just put another baking sheet on top of the first one - upside down, of course - and make sure the edges match up. Since this dough doesn't rise very high, that's plenty of space.

Set the dough aside to rise again until it feels light and puffy, about 30 minutes, or about half the time of the first rise. It will rise during that time, but it might not seem like it doubled. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap (or the second pan) and bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned. You'll see some melty, bubbly cheese on some of the cut edges.

Remove the bread from the oven, remove it from the parchment, and let it cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. This is also great reheated.

*You can make your own basil pesto or buy it in a jar. It's sometimes also available refrigerated.

**Tomato caponata is just a thick, sort of chunky tomato topping. You could use a chunky marinara sauce, or a tomato pesto - whatever you like.

I received products from Hodgson Mill for use in making this recipe, and they are providing a prize to one of my readers, as well. By posting this, I am entering a recipe contest which will be judged by Hodgson Mill.

Want to WIN???

Leave a comment telling me what you'd fill this bread with - I used basil, tomato, and cheese. Will yours be sweet or savory?

That's it. One comment, one entry per person. Contest ends Dec. 21 at midnight mountain time. US residents only 18 years or older. All usual Cookistry contest rules and specification apply.

Good luck (and wish me luck!) and happy baking!