This is the kind of recipe that I think about long after the last piece has been enjoyed. I dream about ways it can be tweaked and how to add more calories into my day so I can have another slice of this heavenly bread. Lightly sweet, this braided loaf is filled with tangy rum-soaked cranberries and crunchy walnuts, all wrapped up in an orange scented slice of deliciousness.
Brown sugar, walnuts and cranberries combine for a tasty and simple filling.
While there are several steps to make this homemade yeast bread, each one is easy and enjoyable. The night before baking mix together flour, water and yeast to create a starter. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
On baking day mix the starter with the remaining dough ingredients using a stand mixer. Allow the dough to rise for a couple of hours then press into three rectangles. Spoon the fruit and nut mixture on each piece of dough and roll into a log.
Braid the three pieces together into a loaf and allow it to rise for about an hour.
This is a great recipe to try while you have things to do at home. The hands on time is only about 20 minutes but the dough must rest and rise for almost 3 hours. The upside is you can wrap presents or address Christmas cards and have fresh bread when you’re done!
Taking pictures of this warm loaf was difficult – it smelled incredible and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
This holiday bread is sure to impress! I practically begged my husband to take half the warm loaf down the street to our son and daughter-in-law’s house so I wouldn’t eat the whole thing. They loved it and almost ate it all before he got back home! It’s really that good.
Don’t forget to PIN to your favorite baking board!
- FOR THE STARTER:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cool water
- ⅛ teaspoon active dry yeast
- FOR THE DOUGH:
- 2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 large orange
- FOR THE FILLING:
- ¾ cups dried cranberries
- ¾ cup walnuts
- ½ cup (lightly packed) light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dark spiced rum (optional)
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- Coarse sugar
- The night before baking - make the starter. Combine the starter ingredients: 1 cup flour, ½ cup cool water and ⅛ teaspoon yeast.
- On baking day scrape the starter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining dough ingredients and knead until the dough is elastic and satiny. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free location for about 1 to 2 hours or until puffy (not the same as doubled in size - just puffy.)
- While the dough is rising, combine the cranberries and rum. Stir occasionally while the dough is resting to re-hydrate the cranberries.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces, On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece out into a 6" by 12" rectangle.
- Drain any excess rum from the cranberries and add the brown sugar and walnuts. Stir until combined. Divide the filling between the three pieces of dough. Spread the filling leaving about 2 inches on one long side.
- Starting with the long edge, roll each rectangle into a log taking care to seal the dough to prevent the filling from seeping out. Braid the logs together tucking the end pieces underneath. Place the braided dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap and cover the braid. Allow the dough to rise again just until puffy - about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water and brush onto the braid. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cover with foil if needed to prevent the dough from getting to dark.
- Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Are you ready? I didn’t take a picture of the bottom of the tree because there are no presents wrapped! I have high hopes that I’ll be super productive this weekend. Are you baking, shopping or wrapping? I’m doing all of the above and celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. Busy, busy weekend ahead! Thanks so much for stopping by and Merry Christmas!