Savory Cranberry Wreath
This festive, braided-bread centerpiece makes a delicious accompaniment to your holiday turkey, ham or prime rib.
Active time: 1 hour
Non-active time: approx. 2 hours
Special tools: food processor, stand mixer, parchment paper, pastry brush
Savory Cranberry Spread
1 T oil
1 sm onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c sweet red vermouth
2 T white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 c fresh cranberries
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 1/4 t dried yeast
1/3 c milk, lukewarm
2 eggs, beaten
2 3/4 c unbleached bread flour
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 T honey or sugar
1 1/2 T melted butter or vegetable oil
1/3 – 1/2 c lukewarm water
1 T fresh thyme leaves
Savory Cranberry Spread
In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft (no color), 5 min, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth and vinegar, reduce by half. Blend cranberries and sugar in a food processor to a paste. Add cranberry paste, salt and pepper to pan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, 6-8 min, stirring often until no juices remain on bottom. Briefly cool; transfer to processor and again work into a paste. Chill well before using. Can be made up to one week ahead.
Dissolve yeast in milk. Allow to foam, 5 min. If no foam appears (inactive), discard and start over with a fresh yeast packet. Reserve 1 T of egg, then place all ingredients, except water and thyme, in a mixer bowl. Add 1/3 c water and combine with dough hook on slow speed; adjust water or flour, if needed, erring on the wet side. Knead dough on second speed for 6 min. Add thyme, knead 2 min more. Cover dough in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in volume.
On a floured work surface, roll dough to a 24” x 12” rectangle.
Spread cranberry paste onto 2/3 of dough lengthwise, leaving 1/3 bare.
Fold into thirds: flip the bare third over the cranberry paste, covering middle 1/3.
Then flip over remaining 1/3 for a rectangle, approx. 4” x 24”.
Leave 1” of one end uncut (attached); cut remainder lengthwise into three long strips.
Strips should be connected at one end and free at the other end.
Trim edges of the two outside strips, revealing spread.
At attached end, braid dough, twisting to expose layers.
As you braid, pull gently on the strands to ensure even thickness and length.
Gather ends and bring together, creating a circle, pinching braid end and flattening attached end.
Overlap strips with flattened end, tucking corners under and hiding seam.
Draw a 10” circle on parchment paper. Turn paper over on baking sheet; grease lightly. Carefully transfer wreath onto parchment and arrange dough to fit the circle.
Heat oven to 350º. Add 1 t water to reserved egg. Brush dough with egg and let rise 40 min in a warm place until almost doubled in volume. Brush again with egg.
Bake 30-35 min until golden and baked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.