Braided Vanilla Bread from Yogurt-Enriched Dough

Last weekend I finally got to bake again this rich & delectable yeasted bread after quite some time. After sharing some pictures of the bread on my Instagram, my inbox got filled with messages asking for the recipe and no wonder. Easy to make, great looking bread that feeds the crowd is a “go-for” treat to bring on a first spring picnic of the year

The bread is a satisfying combination of a rather rich, almost tangy enriched dough with light & airy filling in the middle. Because the dough is enriched with an egg, yogurt and butter, the proving time is longer compared with “lighter” doughs enriched only with an egg & oil (or egg yolk). When making this braid, I like to combine white flour (AP) with a spelt that brings up a mild and almost nutty flavor. The color of the crumb is therefore off-white and resembles one made with whole wheat. You can but don’t have to use spelt here but you’ll be missing out on an extra flavor & nutrients

The bread can be filled with any kind of filling that you like as long as it has the right kind of consistency (thicker, not too runny & liquid). Today, I am sharing the recipe for one of my favorite fillings that is a Vanilla Cream & Berries but below is a list of a few more options that make a very delicious filling:

  • Cream Cheese & Apricots
  • Vanilla Farmer’s Cheese (Tvaroh/Quark) & Raisins
  • Cream Cheese & Lemon Curd
  • Chocolate Cream (or readymade Chocolate Spread) & Chopped Walnuts
  • Thick Jams like Apricot Jam, Strawberry or Raspberry Jam & Cream Cheese

INGREDIENTS

(makes 1 Loaf of Bread)

Dough

150g AP/ White Flour

150g Spelt Flour

15g Fresh Yeasts/ 5g Active Dry Yeasts

80g Water

50g Sugar

5g Salt

1 Egg, large

50g Butter, unsalted & softened

80g Plain Yogurt

Filling

300g Milk, whole

40g Sugar

25g Cornstarch

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract or 1 Vanilla Pod

1 Egg Yolk, large

Other

150g Berries

1 Egg, whole for egg wash

Sesame Seeds, to decorate

Flour, for dusting

Powdered Sugar, to decorate


METHOD

1.Sift 150g of White and 150g of Spelt Flour into a bowl of your standing mixer or a bigger mixing bowl. Add 50g of Sugar and mix together. Make a small well in the center and pour 80g of lukewarm Water in the middle and dissolve /stir in 15g of Fresh or 5g of Active Dry Yeasts in it. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plate and wait for the yeasts to activate for approximately 10-15 minutes

2. Once your yeasts are activated, foamy and increase its volume, add into the bowl 5g of Salt, 1 beaten Egg, 80g of Plain Yogurt and 50g of softened Butter. Start kneading the dough at a low speed for 5 minutes, then increase the speed and keep kneading for approximately 10 minutes. The dough is well kneaded when it’s no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl, it is holding on a hook and is soft, pliable & stretchy. You might need to keep adding more flour to your bowl, mainly to the end of the kneading (or after 5-7 minutes of starting of kneading) if the dough is too sticky (even up to 30-40g of more flour, adding it little by little). Once the dough is well-kneaded cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it rest until double in size (1.5-2 hours) at room temperature

Note: I usually make my dough a night before and let it slowly rise & proving in the fridge overnight. Pre proving process in the fridge is much slower because of the low temperature so the dough has more time to develop the deeper flavor instead of just rising in size. If you choose to prove the dough in the fridge overnight make sure to seal it very well to protect it from drying out. Take it out from the fridge and bring it to room temperature at least an hour or two before you move on with rolling & shaping

3. While the dough proves, prepare the filling. Bring 200g of Milk to simmer in a smaller pot. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the rest 100g of Milk with 40g of Sugar, 25g of Cornstarch, 1 Egg Yolk and 2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (if you’re using a Vanilla Pod place it into the pot with simmering milk to release the flavor). Stir the mixture once the milk starts to simmer and keep mixing and cooking until thick for 2-3 minutes. Transfer custard into a clean bowl, cover the cream with a plastic wrap (wrap should touch the surface of the cream to prevent from creating skin) and let it cool down completely in the fridge

4. Once the dough doubled its size, take it out from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a rectangle (approximately 14″x10″ or 35×25 cm). Once rolled out, transfer the dough carefully on a baking pan lined with parchment paper before moving to the next step. Spread Vanilla Cream (or filling that you use) lengthwise through the center of the dough leaving out the very top and bottom of the dough and divide Berries on top of the cream. Cut the right and left side of the dough into ~ 1″ or 2.5 cm thick strips. Start with braiding the dough tightly from top all the way to the bottom. To braid simply alternate the right strip with the left one bringing it diagonally across the filling. Make sure to tack and secure the end of each strip under the braid

5. Brush your braid generously with a beaten Egg and sprinkle with some Sesame seeds. Bake at 370°F/ 185°C for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Note: increase the temperature to 380° if baking in high elevation. Once baked, transfer on a cooling rack and let cool down for at least half an hour, then dust with some Powdered sugar, slice and enjoy. The braid stays fresh for up to three days if wrapped with a clean towel or stored in an airtight container

Dobrú chuť,
Lenka

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