Here’s another Easter treat to share with family and friends – who can resist freshly baked bread bursting with apricots and chocolate chips with a fresh orange icing drizzle? And let’s not forget the cute little Easter egg “nest” in the middle! Introducing Cakephoria’s Easter Bread Garland.
425g Strong White Bread Flour
60g Butter, chilled
60g Caster Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 x 7g Sachet Dried Easy Blend Yeast
160ml Warm Milk
1 Large Egg (beaten)
30g Butter, melted
100g Dried Apricots, finely chopped
50g Dates, finely chopped
50g Chocolate Chips (milk or dark, as preference)
60g Ground Almonds
50g Demerera or Light Muscovado Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 Lemon, grated
Zest of 1/2 Orange, grated
60g Icing Sugar
1/2 tsp Orange Zest, finely grated
1-2 tbsp Orange Juice
Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter (or put flour, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz for 10-15 secs) until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast, and make a well in the centre. Warm the milk (when you dip your little finger in it should feel pleasantly warm instantly) and add the milk and beaten egg to the centre of the mix. Draw the flour into the liquid gradually, mixing well to make a smooth dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and place a tea towel over the bowl. Leave somewhere warm to prove (an airing cupboard is ideal) for about 1 hr 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Knead lightly just to knock out the air for about one minute and then roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 16″ x 9″ rectangle. It takes a little time to tease the dough into a larger shape, as it is very elastic, but be patient – it will bend to your will! The trick is to roll from the middle outwards in all directions, pushing it back into shape as you go.
Mix together the filling ingredients and spread over the rectangle, leaving a 2cm border approx around the edges. Starting at one of the long edges, roll the edge over and tuck it under itself, and begin rolling until you end up with a cylinder. Stretch and press the loose edge against the dough to seal it.
Form the cylinder into a ring and press the edges together to seal. Run your hands around the ring stretching it where necessary to form an even thickness all round. Make sure you have a large hole in the middle to put your Easter egg nest (if using).
Lift the dough ring onto a large baking sheet (although the tutorial shows the dough being cut prior to placing on baking sheet, I would advise the dough ring be placed on the baking sheet first- especially if this is your first time making this). Using a sharp knife at about 2″ intervals, make incisions into the dough ring, but without cutting right through to the centre (it needs to remain intact in the middle to twist the sections). You could accurately measure this with a ruler, or you could adopt, as I have, the rustic approach and guess (aka being lazy!). You should end up with 12-14 slices, depending on how you cut it. Twist each section to reveal the cut sides and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190c for 30 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Revel in the lovely aroma that fills your entire house when baking this! Remove from the oven, leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack, and leave to cool completely. Place the icing sugar and orange zest in a bowl and gradually add enough orange juice to make a thin icing (not too runny, you want it to slowly fall from the spoon). Drizzle this over your Easter bread garland and leave to set. I created my “nest” from lengths of raffia which I twisted into a circular shape and placed in the centre of the Easter bread garland – and who can resist mini eggs!
This bread will keep in an airtight container for up to five days; but this particular one didn’t hang around for long!!
Happy baking and Happy Easter!!