There are small ways to add a festive touch to a holiday table.
Bread is one of them
Here's an example excerpted from Bread, 'Over 60 Breads, Rolls and Cakes Plus Delicious Recipes Using Them' (Kyle Books, October 2012) by Nick Malgieri which i finally received after a long post Sandy voyage.
Swiss Braided Bread
Like fried potatoes in Belgium, this Sunday morning braided bread might be the only food that truly unites Switzerland’s diverse ethnic and linguistic groups. I’ve given the recipe name in the country’s four languages: German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch Grischun, this last a compiled language of ancient dialects spoken in Canton Graubuenden. The version here comes from Zurich baker Reto Hausammann, acknowledged by critics and the public alike for preparing one of the very best versions of Zopf in the country. The precise and creative Swiss have figured out dozens of ways to braid a Zopf. This version is what I consider the most popular and widely seen: a four-stranded braid that has an attractive woven shape.
Makes one 12- to 14-inch braid
1/4 cup/62 grams warm water, about 100˚F
2 1/4 teaspoons/7 grams fine granulated active
dry or instant yeast
1/2 cup/66 grams unbleached bread flour
All the sponge, above
1/2 cup/112 grams whole milk, warmed to about
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons/30 grams sugar
3 1/3 cups/450 grams unbleached bread flour
(spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
2 tablespoons/30 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon/6 grams fine sea salt
Egg wash: 1 egg well whisked with a pinch of salt
One cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment paper
1. For the sponge, whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Wait 30 seconds and whisk again. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sponge ferment until it more than doubles, 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Use a rubber spatula to stir the sponge down, then stir in the milk, eggs, and sugar.
Stir in the flour and the butter, cut into 10 or 12 pieces, on the surface of the dough.
3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed until smooth. Stop and let rest for 10 minutes.
4. Sprinkle in the salt and beat on low/ medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl again and let ferment until almost doubled in bulk, 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Once the dough has risen, scrape it onto a floured work surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces and round each according to the instructions in step 6 on page 186. Set aside covered to rest for 5 minutes.
6. To form the strands for the braid, invert the pieces of dough to the work surface and use the palm of your hand to flatten them to disks. Roll each disk of dough from the far end toward you and seal the edge and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.
7. Roll each piece of dough under the palms of both hands to lengthen them to about 14 inches, slightly tapering them at the ends. Arrange on the prepared pan side by side.
8. To braid the loaf, weave the left strand over the one to its right, under the next one, then over the far one. Repeat with the strand that is now on the far left. Continue repeating until you come to the end. Once you see the photos, opposite, it’s easy. Tuck the ends under at both ends and cover the Zopf with a towel or oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let proof until almost doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
9. Immediately set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
10. Gently brush the risen Zopf with the egg wash, making sure to clean the brush against the side of the bowl or cup to eliminate excess egg wash every time you dip the brush. Bake until well risen and deep golden, with an internal temperature of about 190˚F, 40 to 45 minutes.11. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, then slide on the paper to a rack to cool. Loosely cover to serve on the day it’s baked or wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and reheat at 350˚F for about 5 minutes, then cool.
(* Recipe excepted from 'Bread' by Nick Malgieri-published by Kyle Books, October 2012- photography by Romulo Yanes, all rights reserved)