I wanted to post something savoury and satisfying and I think this Tricolore Braid fits that criteria on both counts.
To be honest, my head is spinning with sweet treat ideas at the moment. I am hosting a charity coffee morning this week and I am in a whirl of ideas of what I want to bake, when I will physically bake and finish the cakes as well as all the other jobs that need doing when hosting such an event. If only I could squeeze in some extra hours into the next few days!
Therefore, I wanted to share a bake that I have made on a couple of previous occasions, albeit with different fillings, knowing that this works and is something you will be immensely proud of if you give it a go.
I have (barely) adapted this braid dough recipe from James Morton’s fabulous ‘Brilliant Bread’ but I have changed the filling to suit my taste. This is my interpretation of a tricolore salad but as a filling in the braid. I have used basil pesto (my own nut-free recipe), buffalo mozzarella and slow roasted tomatoes but you could use sundried tomatoes. You can use whatever you have readily available.
In fact, the joy of a bread like this is that you can fill it with whatever you have in your fridge or store cupboard. Previously, I have used feta cheese with tapenade and tomato paste, mozzarella pearls with fresh basil. Antipasto is very popular in our house so you could use cured meats, roasted peppers, grilled artichokes. Where shall I draw the line…?
So what is easy about making this bread? Basically, mix the dough, knead a little (if you choose), prove in the fridge overnight, fill, shape, prove again and bake.
And what is a little tricky? The braid technique in itself is very straight forward. I had intended to photograph the technique but once I started the braid, I got a little carried away and it totally slipped my mind. As the dough is chilled and it is quite a damp dough, it is rather sticky. Ensure that the surfaces are heavily floured and once you cut the tabs for the braid, stretch apart so they don’t stick together.
Also, once rolled into a rectangle, trim the dough by a few centimetres at the top and bottom. Otherwise you will struggle to get it on a baking tray as it will be too long and difficult to transfer from the work surface to the prepared baking tray.
Now you know these nuances of this bake, this loaf is a wonderfully flavoursome and satisfying snack, lunch or appetizer.
- 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting surfaces
- 1 x 7g sachet instant yeast
- 10g salt (I use Maldon, ground with a pestle and mortar)
- 25g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 300ml water
- 1 egg
- 20ml olive oil
- egg wash (beaten egg with a pinch of salt)
- 50g pesto (I used my nut-free pesto, see earlier post on Blog)
- 200g buffalo mozzarella, sliced
- 150g marinated slow roasted tomatoes (I used ready-bought)
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, or a large bowl, place the flour, the salt one side of the bowl and the yeast the other. Mix, or rub in the butter and add the water, egg and olive oil until a dough comes together.
- Tip the somewhat wet dough onto a heavily floured work surface and knead for about 5-10 minutes. Form into a ball shape and put into a lightly oiled, large bowl. Cover with food wrap and chill in the fridge overnight, or until the dough has at least doubled in size.
- When you are ready to shape the dough, heavily flour the work surface. As this dough is quite wet and chilled, it is prone to sticking so it is important to ensure the surface is well floured. Tip the dough onto the surface and flour the top, damp side. With a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle, with the narrow edge towards you until the dough is approximately 1cm thick. Trim approximately 3cm at the top and bottom of the dough. Discard, or use for a 'taster' portion (see note below).
- Imagine your dough in thirds, the centre third being where you will fill the dough. Spread the pesto onto the centre third. Add the sliced mozzarella and then the tomatoes, ensuring they are no gaps - you want a good sample of all three ingredients in every slice.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the braids at angles from the middle third to the outer thirds. Each braid should be about 3 cm wide. Starting at one end, fold each tab over the opposite tab, covering the filling and tucking it in, if need be. Continue all the way along until the braid is complete. Transfer carefully to a baking tray lined with parchment. Cover with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place to prove for approximately 40 minutes.
- Prepare the egg wash by beating an egg and adding a pinch of salt. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C, or Gas Mark 7. Have a jug of cold water ready.
- Once proved for the second time, brush with egg wash and bake. Add the water to a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven to create steam and a fine crust.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the crust reaches a light brown, golden colour.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
This quantity gives a very long braid. I have therefore trimmed a little off the top and bottom of the dough in the rolling process to make it a little more manageable. I was going to pro-rata the quantities but for ease it is easier just to trim instead of weighing out eggs. Use the 'trim' as a taster or experiment with different flavours.
Source: Barely adapted dough recipe and adapted filling from James Morton’s ‘Brilliant Bread’