Bonding over yeast – Blueberry braided bread
Until my recent affair with croissants, I don’t actually remember having worked with yeast before. Probably because yeast dough requires you to prove the dough, and I’ve always thought that it was just too much work. Well, not anymore…. Now that I have established a cautious relationship with yeast, I feel confident enough to explore other things I can make with it. It almost feels like a new relationship where you are at the ‘getting to know each other stage’. That’s where Emma Gardner and Kristin Rosenau became involved. Emma is the owner of one of my favourite foodie blogs Poires au Chocolat and Kristin has a blog called Pastry Affair. I love the fact that Emma and Kristin share a few things in common with me:
- We’re all nerdy geeks (Emma has a background in English Language and Literature, Kristin has a background in Physics, and I have a background in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Geez, I hope the ladies don’t mind me calling them nerdy geeks!).
- We love baking and pastries.
- In the pursuit of happiness, our journeys through life have been a bit twisty and turny.
So, what was it that brought the three of us from different parts of the world together? Blueberry braided bread! It was soon after my triumph with croissants that this beautiful bread recipe by Emma floated into my inbox (I’ve been following Emma’s blog for a while now). Emma had done a guest post for Kristin’s blog – that’s how Kristin and I ‘met’. After reading a bit about Kristin, and having a scroll (excuse the pun) through some of her creations, I knew that she would be an inspiration to me like Emma is, so I started to follow Kristin’s blog too. Once again, food brings people together! This recipe makes one 25cm braided bread.
Blueberry braided bread
3½ tbs (90ml) warm water
25g plain flour
1 tsp cater sugar
3.5g dried yeast (½ packet)
75g full fat sour cream
50g unsalted butter, softened
45g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
265g strong plain flour (I used Lighthouse Plain Flour Bread And Pizza)
125g frozen blueberries
15g brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
65g full fat cream cheese (I used Philly’s spreadable cream cheese)
25g full fat sour cream
25g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Combine the water, flour, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and give it a bit of a whisk. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will activate the yeast.
Chuck the yeast mixture, sour cream, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and salt into the bowl of a mixer, and use the paddle attachment to mix on medium-low speed (setting 2 on the KitchenAid). Add in the flour and mix until a dough forms, then switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes on the same setting as before. Don’t worry if the dough seems a bit soft and sticky, it’s meant to be like that. Cover the bowl with some cling wrap and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour to prove. If it’s really cold (like it is in Adelaide at the moment), fill a sink with a couple of centimetres of hot water, put the bowl on something that will elevate it above the water by several centimetres (I used an upturned mug), and the heat from the water will be enough to help the dough rise.
To prepare the blueberries for the filling, chuck the blueberries, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and a bit of water into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the berries are soft and the liquid has reduced to a thick, jammy like consistency. Spoon it all into a bowl and leave to cool. Grab another bowl, and whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream, caster sugar, lemon juice and salt.
Pull the dough out of the mixer bowl onto a floured work surface. Punch the dough down in the centre with your fist to release excess carbon dioxide and roll out into a 38 x 25cm rectangle. Carefully transfer the dough onto a sheet of baking paper. Use a ruler to make indents in the dough so you have three rectangles of equal width (roughly 8cm wide). Don’t press too hard though, as you don’t want to press through the dough and cut it. With the rectangles either side of the middle, make a mark 5cm from the short end at the top and bottom. You will now have four small rectangles about 5 x 8cm – cut those pieces out. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the middle rectangle, then spoon the blueberry mixture on top and give it a swirl to mix. Now cut the outer rectangles into 12 strips, roughly 2.5cm wide. Fold the top and bottom flaps in first, then start folding the strips over, alternating from one side to the other – this will create the braiding effect. Once you get to the end strips, tuck the last one under the main part of the dough. Cover with some cling wrap and set aside to rise further for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size. Once again, I used the hot water in the sink method to help the dough rise because of how cold my kitchen was.
About 45 minutes into the final proving, preheat oven to 190˚C (fan forced). Whisk together an egg and 1 tsp of water to create an egg wash and brush over the dough. Bake for about 25 minutes or until it is a deep golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving. This was the hardest part. Freshly baked bread smells absolutely amazing! All I wanted to do was cut the bread open and eat it. Nom nom nom….
Note: I haven’t really made any adjustments to the original recipe because it’s pretty good as it is. Blueberries aren’t in season in Adelaide at the moment, which is why I substituted with frozen blueberries but I don’t think there’s too much of a difference between fresh and frozen. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Emma’s and Kristin’s blog, I highly recommend that you do. To see Emma’s original recipe in her guest post on Kristin’s blog, click here. To have a squiz at Emma’s post about this gorgeous recipe on her blog, click here.