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Easter Wreath or Hefekranz

I noticed on my site stats that I had a lot of views on my blog yesterday.  I’m sure the nice sister C. from Relief Society had something to do with that.  She announced that she just loves my blog and looks forward to each post.  Well, this post I dedicate to you, dearest sister and if you have time tomorrow, I’ll be happy to squeeze you in as number 11.So, the bread we are making and baking and partaking (those rhyming  sounds just stimulated my brain to come up with a bread poem – will put on back burner for right now, can only deal with one thing at a time..). Let’s start that sentence again:  So, the bread we are making and baking and partaking is called “Hefekranz” in German. “Kranz” being a circular thingy.  If you made the same thing into a braid it would be called “Hefezopf”, “Zopf” being braid. Oh, and someone surely will ask what is “Hefe”? Yeast.  There you have it.  And I promise you, even if you can’t pronounce it, you can still bake it.

Here is the english version of a German receipe.  I tweaked it just a bit, because I did not have milk powder, or sequential time or almonds.  We’ll talk about that on Thursday.

I started the dough last night and let it go throught he first rise overnight.  I was just going to let it sit for 2 hours on the counter and then put it in the fridge (the receipe does not say to do that but I wanted to experiment so we can have variations on timing).  However, as usual I got sidetracked and went to bed without giving my poor neglected dough another thought and so he was left unattended on the kitchen counter until the next morning all by his lonesome doughy self.   Luckily it was fairly chilly in my kitchen so the dough was just fine. In the morning I took the kids to school and then came home because I had forgotten something else before going to work.  Good thing, because I had forgotten about the poor dough, once again.  This time, though, I took the time to punch him down. And I mean “punch” in the gentlest of all possible ways.  Poor dough, first he gets neglected and to add insult to injury, he then also gets punched!  As bad as my life has been over the past 8 months I would not trade it for the life of a dough ball.  I guess, it’s all relative.

So, off to work I go and let the dough sit on the kitchen table while I try to run our business.  I did’t get home until 1:30 pm for lunch, which I ended up not taking because I saw this bowl of dough on my kitchen table and realized the time had come to do something with it OTHER than ignoring it.  So, I cut off a piece of dough and divided the remaining piece into three equal pieces and rolled each one into a long strand.  The dough behaved very well and did NOT spring back.  NO vindictiveness in this dough despite neglect.   Doughs are very forgiving.  People have a much harder time with that, don’t you think?  I speak from experience.

3 strands of dough braided together

Ok, so that’s the braid after I, well, braided it.  The trick is to start in the middle, braid one side, then braid the other also from the middle.  Just like braiding hair.  All you ladies, who have (had) girls with long hair, you will do great with this bread!!!  I was never good with hair.  I always send my daughter to my friend Susanna P. when she needed a special hairdo.  What can I say, I know my strengths and weakness and doing hair is certainly NOT one of my strength, much to my daughter’s dismay.  But I make up for it with other talents, like baking great bread!

Now the braid needs to be turned into a wreath.  It being a circular shape, I rummaged through my cabinet for a pie plate of some sort.  And I found the perfect thing.  Here is what it looked like after I turned the braid into a wreath:

Successfully shaped into a wreath

Can you tell, where the two pieces came together?  I can, but I am not going to worry about that, because I expect this baby to do some serious rising and hopefully that will take care of that. So, by this time it is just after two o’clock and I have to rush off to get Amelie from school, go to the bank, stop back by the office to deliver the bank deposit slip, rush home to drop off Amelie at the house, say hi to my rising dough before I am off to pick up Colin from school and he does not attend a neighborhood school and the commute will take me about 45 to 1 hour depending on traffic. So, basically my braided wreath is left again to his own devices for a long time and when I finally attend to him he looks like this:

My nicely risen, though thoroughly neglected dough

Alright, I was wrong.  I can certainly  see where I tried to work the ends seamlessly together.  I must admit I was not successful!  Oh well,  good thing I am NOT a perfectionist.  I think the bread is going to taste just as good whether it’s perfect or not.

Now, the wreath is ready for his last stint in the oven.  What I like about this receipe is, that you put the risen dough into the COLD oven,set it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 min and after that turn down the heat to 350 degrees and bake it for another 25-30 minutes.

After 15 minutes int the oven

Oops, forgot to mention the eggwash:  1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of water and just slap it on! I use a silicone brush.  The recipe called for adding on sliced almonds, which I most certainly would have added, had I had some, because I LOVE almonds.  And i love them even more when they are toasted in the oven.  But alas, I didn’t have any and this was supposed to be for Easter anyway. So, I added jelly beans.  Wasn’t sure if they would melt in the oven.  But I can report that they did NOT. Since I had to take kids to activities and make a few purchases for my upcoming trip to Germany and France I left the remaining baking time in the capable hands of my oldest son, who is an expert by now on finishing the baking of my loaves when I am otherwise engaged.  Thank you, darling.  So, here is what I found on the counter when I came home:

This is what I found on the couch when I came home. Bad dog, Hunter!

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