Monday, August 30, 2010

Braided Brie and Pear Bread

The bread in this post may seem familiar. Originally I used this to make a bread with raspberry curd and cream cheese. Apparently practice really does improve outcomes because magically this dough rolled out with ease this time around and braided to be a thing of beauty. But don't take my word for it! Exhibit A (pre-baking):
Exhibit B (post-baking):
The inspiration for the filling came from a puff pastry package. The package also suggested caramelized onion and Dijon mustard, but I think this was perfect without them.

Braided Brie and Pear Bread (bread from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt (I used yogurt this time)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Brie filling
100g brie, thinly sliced
1 pear, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tbsp dried cranberries

1. Make sponge: In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
3. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
5. Make the filling (while dough rises): With a food processor, blitz the walnuts and cranberries together. Make sure to slice your cheese and pear.
6. Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. (I rolled it out on the paper.)
7. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Place the brie down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling.
8. Top the brie with the pear and sprinkle with the nut and cranberry mixture.
9. To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper.
10. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hang off decoratively under the end of the braid.
11. Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.
12. Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

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