Christmas Wreath Bread

The smell of this bread is what reminds me of growing up. My grandma made it occasionally and it was the best smell to come home to.. That and the pumpkin rice pudding, and my winter afternoon was made.

I made this bread a couple of years ago on Christmas, and I remember it being just perfect! But I didn’t write down the recipe! I have now made a pledge to never again cook something and not write it here. If not for you guys, then at least for my sake, cause I forget as soon as I finish cooking it.

Christmas Wreath Bread2

So, here is how I recreated my grandma’s Christmas Layered Wreath Bread:

Products:

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

2 eggs (one separated, keep the egg yolk for later)

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs salt

2 packs of dry yeast

1 stick of butter melted (prepare a butter brush)

1 cup of crumbled Bulgarian feta cheese (optional)

Sesame seeds for sprinkling at the end (optional)

Method:

Dissolve the dry yeast in a couple of table spoons of the lukewarm milk, add the sugar and 2 tbs of flower, make it into a liquid batter.

Sift the flour in a big bowl and make a sort of a valley in the middle of it. pour the yeast batter and the the beaten egg plus the egg white in there

Start adding flour into the batter with your hands.. Keep adding and kneading as you go. Once the dough is the consistency of soft putty, pour some flour on a clean cold surface and and start kneading there. Adding a bit of flour as you go..

DO NOT make the dough too hard! It has to be no harder than the soft part of one’s ear.

Shape it in a nice ball, place it back in the bowl and cover with a damp clean towel.

Keep in a warm location for about 30 minutes to let it rise a bit.

Put some nice music on and dance … you’ll burn the calories, you will need to be able to consume your masterpiece, once you’ve finished it…

Back to the bread now:

Take it out of the bowl. Cut in 6 equal pieces.

Take your rolling pin (a marble one would be great as it’s cold and heavy and you won’t have to press hard) and roll out the first piece in a rectangular sheet.

Place it on the same surface you kneaded the dough on.

Using your brush, spread some of the melted butter on the sheet of dough. Then sprinkle some of the crumbled feta.

Do the same with each of the remaining 5 pieces of dough. And place them on top of the first one, forming a layered dough rectangle.

Now, roll up the rectangle from the long side into a tight roll and as you roll it, try to elongate it slightly.

Take a sharp long wet knife and cut the roll into 6 triangular pieces.

Then cut each piece into two, forming little 90 degree triangles.

Take a round baking pan and grease it with the remaining butter liberally.

Arrange the end pieces of the dough in the middle of the pan, on their bottoms, so the tops look like a flower.

Arrange all the other triangles on their short sides facing with their long sides towards the center. Arrange them around the center flower. They don’t have to touch. They will rise one more time in the oven and fill up the remaining gaps.

That left over egg yolk, take it and stir it with a bit of warm water (to make it easier to brush on the bread)

Brush the top of the bread as thoroughly as you can.

Put in a 350 degree oven. Don’t wait for the oven to heat up. The warming up process will help with the secondary rising of the dough making it flakier.

Now start your second dance session for another 45 minutes and you’ll burn enough calories to have a couple more pieces of the bread. 🙂

Et Voila!

Christmas Wreath Bread

Enjoy!

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Pork Kebap Bulgarian Style

Pork Kebap Bulgarian Style

This is Pork like you’ve never had it before! I cooked it with my mom and insisted on writing the recipe down, so I remember every detail of the way she and my grandmother before her used to make it.

Every time I start this dish, the aromas transcend my kitchen walls and I time travel to me being 4, sitting in grandma’s kitchen. It’s still dark on a cold January morning. I couldn’t sleep, I heard some noises in the kitchen, so I went to check it out. Grandma was already up for hours. She gave me a cup of warm milk, tucked me in a huge throw in the couch and told me to nap some more. .. I did, and dreamed a delicious dream……

So you can see why I love everything about this dish.
The beauty of it is, that it’s simple to make, and makes the house smell so cozy, you’d be able to close your eyes and imagine a mountain cottage and pure white snow falling peacefully outside, while the fire is quietly crackling…

This is a great recipe to utilize that type of pork that you may deem too fatty to grill or cook in any other way. But especially because it’s fatty, it makes perfect kebap material!
So here is my Grandma and Mom’s recipe:

Products:
1 lb of shoulder pork meat
5 onions (medium) chopped
1/2 lb canned tomatoes
1 cup red table wine
3 jalapeño peppers chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp black pepper crushed
5 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
3 tsp turmeric
1 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp savory
1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley

Chop the onions
Cut the meat in cubes
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven and drop the meat to brown on all sides
Add the onion slices, then the jalapeno peppers
While the onions and the meat are simmering, use a hand held mixer and roughly crush the tomatoes. You don’t need to juice them all the way. .
Add all the spices to the meat, onions and jalapenos, and mix well.
Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix all together.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375F
Put the Dutch Oven in the oven and bake for 1hr.

Dutch oven is the easy and effective way. I personally like to use a clay pot with a lid that I have from Bulgaria. I transfer the mixture from the Dutch Oven into the clay pot and put in a COLD oven, rather than preheated. (However tempered your clay pot is, I would rather not chance it and have it crack in a hot oven with all that food in it. .. It may make a mess much bigger than you can imagine.)

The only difference between baking it in a Dutch oven and a beautiful clay pot, is that the presentation is more authentic, but the taste is pretty much the same.

Serving options:
Best way to serve this is while it’s still warm, on top of either warm polenta, or rice or quinoa, with sprinkled fresh parsley on top.

All of the above make good gluten free additions.

Optional Polenta recipe:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup cold water
4 cups cold fat-free milk
Mix well and put on the stove
Keep mixing pretty much the whole time while it’s cooking
Mix until it becomes a thick mixture and the boiling resembles molten lava
Then turn it off.
Take an oven proof dish
Melt one stick of butter in the microwave
Pour half of it in the oven proof dish (it’s good to have a narrow dish so that the liquid butter can form a deep layer.
Pour the cooked polenta in it on top of the butter.
Then pour the rest of the melted butter on top and bake in the 375F preheated oven for about 20-25 min. It only needs to get slightly brown on top. As soon as you take it out of the oven, cover it with an aluminum foil and a towel on top, so it stays soft and juicy.

Goes great with a robust red wine – a Chilean Cabernet or an Argentinian Malbec of your choice will complement it very well!

DOBUR APETIT!
ENJOY!