I’m commiting this to keypad partly for all the people who’ve asked me for the recipe, but mostly to save myself from having to rifle through countless ratty pieces of refill paper looking for it twice a year!
I’ve been making this wreath for breakfast on Good Friday and Christmas Mornings for a few years now after finding the recipe somewhere in the ether that is the Internet; every attempt I’ve ever made at Hot Crossed Buns has ended in complete failure and more than a few tears so the spices and zest in this bread makes a great substitute in my mind. I would make it more often (I could eat it every day, in fact, it’s almost the only thing I did eat today!) but I think it’s so important to add your own family traditions to holidays as well as following the ones you grew up with. If I made it every week it wouldn’t be our special holiday “thing”. We were never a champagne breakfast family growing up, and it seems a waste of good ham/trifle space to have a cooked breakfast on Christmas morning, but a bowl of cocoa pops or a couple of pieces of toast just didn’t seem very special. Hence, one of the traditions I’ve started for my family is the Breakfast Brioche Wreath.
It’s hot. It’s sweet. It’ll take as much butter as you can lather onto it. It would be my Death Row breakfast for sure. The fact that it can be made the night before and left for the second rise overnight in the fridge makes it even sweeter; Christmas morning rolls around and before you can say “Can I just make a coffee before you start ripping into your presents/Please stay still so I can take a photo/No, that one has your brother’s name on it . . . oh never mind”, your house is filled with the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread and you’re all but tearing hunks off with our bare hands. Well, I am!
It’s Good Friday Night here at the moment, you still have heaps of time to get everything together for your own wreath for Easter Sunday. Go on, you won’t regret it.*
Christmas/Easter Breakfast Wreath
2 1/4 tspn yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
3 tbspn sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tspn salt
cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste (I do a combo of about a tablespoon all up)
Zest of a lemon and/or an orange – you can use mixed peel if you like (I don’t like), and as with the spices, put as much or as little as you prefer
3 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup dries cranberries/sultanas, soaked
6 tbspns butter, softened
1/3 cup plain flour
3/4 cup blanched almonds, roughly chopped
3 tbspns sugar
1 tspn lemon rind
1/2 cup water
3 tbspns castor sugar
Dissolve yeast in water. Blend the milk, sugar, butter, salt, spices, eggs and lemon in a large bowl, and add yeast mixture.
Stir in 2 cups of the flour, one at a time (the easiest way is with a dough hook attachment on your hand or bowl mixer, but you can do it with a good old spoon), beat for two minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough is workable.
Knead until smooth (5-10 mins), place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise to twice the size (about 1 1/2 hours)
To make the filling, drain the fruit, combine with all other ingredients, cover and refrigerate.
Punch down the risen dough, knead lightly and roll into a rectangle approx 50cm long and 5mm thick. Crumble the filling over the dough, coming to 1 inch away from the edges. Roll up from the long side and pinch the edge to seal.
This is the tricky bit – unfortunately I didn’t take any process photos so stay with me! With a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise and turn each half cut-side-up, so that you have the halves lying side by side. Carefully lift the halves over each other one at a time to create a twisted look, then curve the twisted dough into a circular shape. Transfer onto a greased and floured tray. at this point you can either proove it again for 45mins then bake, or pop it into the fridge overnight until it has risen again. Ha, ha. (That’s a terrible joke, sorry.)
Either way, when you’re ready, bake at 180C for 25mins. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small saucepan and boil until it has reduced enough to form a syrupy consistency. Brush hot glaze over the hot wreath and then sit on your hands until it’s cooled down enough to eat.
Serve in slices with plenty of butter and hot coffee. It makes a lovely present for friends and neighbours, if you can bear to part with it that is!!
*actually, your waist may regret it. You’ve been warned.