Holiday Wreath Bread (Vegan)

December 19, 2015
I sometimes feel like I post way too many sweet or snack recipe and not enough entrees. Then I remember that it's my blog, and I can post whatevah.

Graham and I did a little bit of Christmas shopping today, and you know what? I had a dream last night that the local fair-trade store ran out of these particular chocolates I get my mom every year. Well, they did. Mama's getting homemade truffles instead.

I shared a picture of this bread a few weeks ago. A few reader comments reminded me that Christmas is around the corner, so if this recipe didn't go up soon, it was going to have to wait another year. The original photos turned out a little fuzzy because it was dark and I was too lazy to use my tripod, but I took some new ones today. Thank goodness it's holidays now - it's too dark to take pictures when I get home from work at this time of year, and I wasn't getting much done.

This version is slightly different from the first one I made. Fresh cranberries made it extra pretty after it was baked, but it was frustrating to roll and cut and braid with little slippery cranberries popping out all over the place. If you have saint-like patience, try it with fresh cranberries. The flavour is phenomenal and the bright colour of the berries is festive and pretty. If you aren't so saint-like, or you can't find fresh cranberries, use dried. It was much easier, but not quite as pretty. You could also use chopped fresh cranberries for fun all around. This little wreath (the recipe actually makes two) also has almonds, chocolate, and cinnamon rolled up inside it. The dough is flavoured with orange, vanilla, and cinnamon.

This is probably the last recipe I'll be posting before Christmas. Happy happy holidays! I hope you have a good book to read and some nice tea to drink.

Thanks to Graham for being a just slightly grumpy hand model.

Makes two small wreaths or one large

1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm non-dairy milk*
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
3 tablespoons grape seed oil or other light tasting oil
Juice of an orange
Zest of an orange
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
3 cups kamut flour*

1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or 1 cup fresh
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Pour the warm water into a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer). Sprinkle the coconut sugar and the yeast into the water and let it sit for ten minutes, or until it expands.

Add the warm milk, maple syrup, oil, orange juice and zest, two cups of flour, and spices. Stir with a wooden spoon or the paddle of a stand mixer until fully combined. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir until it's too stiff to continue, and then place the dough on a clean floured surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary. If you're using a stand mixer use the dough hook on the lowest speed.

Knead until a soft and smooth dough forms. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and put the bowl in a warm place. Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

After an hour, punch the dough down. You can separate it into two at this point if you want two smaller wreaths, or keep it whole for a large wreath. If you're keeping it in one piece make sure you have a big baking sheet for it.

Roll the dough out to 2 cm thick on parchment paper. Don't do this on a floured counter, as it's too hard to transfer to a baking sheet. Add the filling in the order listed above.

Gently roll the dough up like you would for cinnamon buns. You can cut it up like cinnamon buns and bake it that way if you'd prefer. For the braid, you have to cut it lengthwise down the centre. Cross each section over the other like a two strand braid, and then gently make a circle with the braid, tucking one end under the other to complete the circle.

Let this rise for another 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Bake the bread for 30 minutes if you made two wreaths, and 40 if you've made one large wreath. It should be golden and sound hollow when you knock on it.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating, and fully before storing in a sealed container. It will stay good for a couple of days, and still be edible on the third (but not as nice).

1. I really like using full-fat coconut milk in this recipe, but any will work.
2. You can use all spelt in place of the kamut flour, or use all-purpose here.

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