braided breads

Mom’s Butter Coffeecake Braids

Butter Coffeecake Braids

The name of this bread is a little misleading. It really isn’t a coffeecake. These loaves just have a texture that reminds you of sweet breads. The bread itself isn’t sweet. There is less than 3 tablespoons of sugar in the two loaves combined. But it is a rich dough with butter, eggs and evaporated milk.

Mom would often top the cooled loaves with a powdered sugar glaze or a buttercream. Sometimes she would add toasted nuts, too. You could easily add raisins to the dough.

The thing is, after a while, we all kind of decided we liked the bread plain. The bread has just over 2 cups of flour in each loaf. That is low by most bread standards. It is just different from most any other bread I make.

In our family, my mom was famous for this bread. Every gathering, she would bring it. For large parties, she often started baking, and freezing, the loaves a few weeks ahead, so she would have enough.

The bread really is exceptional, with a texture that is soft and a little chewy at the same time. Since my Mom’s birthday is coming up, I wanted to remember her by making and sharing some of her favorite recipes. So here is the recipe.

Mom’s Butter Coffeecake Braids

4 1/2 c. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

½ c. butter

1 packet yeast

¼ c. warm water

2 t. sugar

1 c. evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut in butter or duck fat and set aside. Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in warm water. Dissolve yeast in warm water mixture and set aside. Allow to become bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Combine milk with eggs. Stir in yeast mixture and add to flour mixture stirring well. Knead dough in bowl until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours. Divide dough in half and then each half into thirds. Roll dough into ropes and braid three ropes together. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes.  Place braids in 9×5 inch greased bread pans and cover with a towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1½ hours. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. If you like glaze loaves while warm with a mix of powdered sugar, a little milk, butter, and vanilla. Toasted almonds or walnuts can be added, if desired. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: You can also refrigerate the dough after kneading it if you would prefer. Just place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll and shape dough into braids when cold from the fridge.  Rise, covered, until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours. Bake as directed.

Note: You can also place loaves on a greased baking sheet for a longer, flatter bread rather than in loaf pan.

Note: This is the same dough my parents used to make jelly doughnuts.

Braided Herb Breads

Herb Breads

Herb Breads

I had a fun herb program in North Canton today. I made this bread for them, and I promised to post the recipe. As fall begins, and the weather gets cooler, I find myself baking more bread. This is one of my favorite recipes. The mix of herbs, garlic and shallots gives this bread great flavor. I like to toast it and spread with a little butter. It also makes a wonderful sandwich bread.  Works well for croutons and as bruschetta, too. You can bake the dough in 9×5 -inch loaf pans, if you want a more traditional shaped bread.

Braided Herb Breads

5 ½ -6 ½ c. flour
2 packages quick rising yeast
½ c. sauteed, minced shallots or onions*
2 T. each dried marjoram and parsley
1 T. each dried oregano and minced garlic
1 T. honey
2 t. dried thyme
2 t. salt
¼ c. olive oil
2 ¼ c. hot water

In a mixing bowl combine 2 c. of flour with the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth. Beat with electric mixer 4 minutes then add 1-cup additional flour and beat 1 minute longer. Stir in flour ½ cup at a time until soft dough forms. Turn onto surface and knead, adding flour gradually until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in lightly greased bowl and turn to cover. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Turn dough onto surface and cut in half. Cut each half into thirds. Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Loosely braid three ropes together and repeat with the remaining dough. Place on greased baking sheet and cover until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped lightly. Makes 2.

* I cook the shallots or onions in a little oil or butter, then cool before adding to the dough.

Variation: Whole wheat: Add 2 cups of whole-wheat flour to replace 2 cups of white flour. Also try adding ¼ c. of wheat germ, oat bran or 2 tablespoons of seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, etc.)
Regular yeast can be used, but rising times will be longer and water should be warm, not hot.

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