I’m on a bread kick again recently if you haven’t noticed. I like baking things I can actually eat for the remainder of the week without feeling guilty – like those chocolate M&M cookies! Today I’m using up a jar of that plum jam I made a few weeks ago, and turning it into a braided loaf of bread.
Braided Jam Bread: yields one medium braid
300 g bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
40 g sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk, warm, about 100-110F
8 g (1 pkg) active dry yeast
1 TB vanilla extract
50 g soft butter
1+1/2 to 2 cups fruit jam of your choice.
-Place the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir together until evenly combined.
-Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, and whisk the vanilla into the egg.
-Using the hook attachment (or of course, you can do by hand with wooden spoon and your fingers!) add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and hook/knead until the dough starts forming a nice homogeneous dough.
-Once the dough starts to hold together in one nice mass add the soft butter. Continue to hook/knead until the dough is smooth, which is really only 2 minutes or so.
-Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap or damp towels, and allow to rest at room temperature until about doubled in size.
-Preheat your oven to 350 F.
-Once the dough has doubled in size you can remove it from the bowl and place it on a well oiled counter top (with well oiled hands) and begin rolling it out into a long oval shape the length of the long side of a baking tray.
-You want the dough to be the length of your baking sheets longest edge, and the width to be wide enough to place jam down the center and cut ‘arms’ down both sides. You will then take these ‘arms’ and fold them over one another all the way down the loaf until it’s completely braided, like so:
-To make the loaf easier to work with: roll it out directly on the baking tray you want to bake it on, then cut the arms and fold. This way you don’t have to transfer the soft delicate blob from the counter top to the baking sheet. Not the smartest thing.
-Allow the braid to proof a little longer until it becomes soft and slightly puffy, another 20-30 minutes. You want the dough to bounce back slowly when you press it with your finger.
-Brush the braid with some egg wash (egg whisked with a splash of water) and bake until it’s dark golden. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack, and brush with melted butter to finish!