What I love the most about this bread is that you can "top" it any way you want! I love the mix of maraschino cherries and nuts the best (slightly crushed cardamom comes in a close second.) This is the perfect bread for a special morning breakfast (think - Holidays) the smell they create baking is magnificent - who wouldn't want to 'wake' to that!? This recipe makes 2 large loaves and you can do with that what you want too. I made one large and two smaller. I usually like to form one into a ring after braiding too (think Christmas wreath) You can also make them into even smaller 'personal sized' servings and let your kids or guests 'create their own' topping... The bread itself is slightly sweet. A perfect addition to start your day! ~Enjoy! Diane
Morning "Coffee" Bread
1/4 Cup Water, (100-110 degrees)
1 Pkg. Active Dry Yeast
3 Tbs Sugar
1/2 Cup Milk, warmed
4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat your oven to its lowest setting (mine is 170 - as soon as it reaches 170, turn oven OFF and leave oven door slightly cracked/ajar until dough is ready) you are creating a draft-free and warm proofing box for your dough to rise.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let that sit while you prepare your other ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl; (I use my Kitchen Aide Mixer with Dough Hook for this recipe) Add the sugar and flour and combine. Add in the remaining ingredients (adding the yeast and water into the bowl last) and mix with dough hook for about 4-6 minutes (adding water or flour if needed *according to your humidity at the time) Once a cohesive, soft dough ball forms place dough into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and let rise in your warmed oven (close oven door during rising, oven remains OFF) for 1.5 hours (or until dough doubles in bulk)
After first rise, take dough out and 'punch down' dough - gather up the dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. For two loaves: divide dough in half. Then divide each half into three equal portions and roll each out into a 14" rope/strand for braiding. Gather/pinch the top of the three strands together and braid the bread - pinch the three strands together at the bottom of braid and roll under bread - place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with saran (not tightly covered) Let rise in oven (turned OFF) for another hour.
The last 5 minutes of second rise time - remove the baking sheet from oven, so you can heat your oven for baking. Remove saran from bread, and heat your oven to 375.
Bake Bread 20-30 minutes, until golden.
Remove, let cool and top as preferred.
Basic Vanilla Glaze:
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1-2 Tbs Milk (you want to be able to drizzle on glaze without it being too runny)
1 Tsp Vanilla (I like using Vanilla Bean paste)
*Dried Fruits and Nuts as preferred to top glaze.
Recipe Adapted from: Nancy Molldrem: "Braided Coffee Bread"
Photos by: Diane Baker for Canning and Cooking at Home