Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread #TwelveLoaves

12.03.2013

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

So after last week’s news about selling my house, I’m in the middle of moving out, while working a lot and putting my best face while enduring 35ºC (94ºF) with a million percent humidity like today.
But, as you all know, we food bloggers are a rare breed, and can make a crunchy almond holiday bread in the middle of all that chaos. It’s for the blog after all! It must be done! 
Considering it’s almost Christmas – yes it is, whether you’re ready or not – and I wouldn’t dream of missing the last post of Twelve Loaves this year, the bread baking group founded by Lora and run with the invaluable help of Renee, I present you with a bread with a hefty dose of almonds - ground, sliced and extract - just perfect for a quiet moment nursing your cup of whatever liquid suits your mood. 

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

The theme we decided for December is holiday breads, very innovative I know, but the truth is, holidays are about traditions and eating certain foods, and friends and family demanding similar recipes year after year, sometimes so hard for us bloggers to do, don’t you agree? the same recipe I mean, I always want to make something new. 
So a list of good, trusted recipes will come in very handy. Believe me, this is not the time of year to think outside the box too much and end up with hours logged in baking and nothing to account for them. There's just too much going on to have to start all over again.
No, this is the time to make our favorites and watch those around us smile in joy at the prospect of eating that once-a-year-loaf of bread again.

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread
Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

Or braided ring in my case. It turns out I have a thing for lightly sweet breads, braided and glazed. Like the finnish pulla, or the cinnamon sugar challah, my two favorites so far. And now this simple braid with a crunchy topping of almonds and coarse raw sugar - which looks like broken styrofoam bits - and pure almond extract with lemon and vanilla in the dough. Aren't you glad you can add it to your collection? 
I used to make lists of homemade gifts every year, long ones with very optimistic recipes and amounts per person. The last few years I'm cutting through the dissapointment, and there are no lists, not even the thought that I have to give homemade cookies and jars to everyone I know. So, it's a surprise if I do, even for me. 

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread
Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

If you want to give braided sweet breads such as this one for the holidays, remember to wrap it as soon as it cools so it keeps moist, like the pandoro I made last year. Or add a note that it can be frozen and toasted later. Or a recipe for a caramelized apple bread pudding or french toast
That is if you don't eat it warm first. So good.
  
Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread




CRUNCHY ALMOND HOLIDAY BREAD
adapted from Bread For All Seasons, by Beth Hensperger

You can use all purpose flour instead of both flours listed below. I use cream together with lowfat milk; you can use full fat milk and ½ cup water too.

Ingredients

For the bread:
1 Tbs active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
Zest of 1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup milk (I use lowfat)
¼ cup cream
¼ cup water
5 Tbs olive oil
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the crunchy topping:
¼ cup coarse raw sugar
¼ cup whole almonds
½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup sliced almonds
1 egg + 1 Tbs water, glaze

Instructions

For the bread:
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if you’re kneading by hand), mix 2 cups cake flour, yeast and lemon zest.
Heat together milk, cream, water and oil to lukewarm (120ºF). Add it to the yeast mixture together with the eggs, mix with a wooden spoon a bit, and add salt, almond and vanilla extract. Mix well until creamy, about 1 minute.
Attach to the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and start adding the rest of the flours, ½ cup at a time. Knead for 4 or 5 minutes, adding a few extra tablespoons if needed because the dough is wet. The dough will leave the sides of the bowl for the first minute when you add flour, but it won’t completely gather into a ball. That is fine.
If making by hand, mix with a wooden spoon while you add the remaining flour, until it’s very thick. Then dump the dough into a lightly floured counter, and knead by hand for no less than 5 minutes, adding extra flour by tablespoons to make a slightly sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 1 ½  to 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room.
On a lightly floured counter, flatten the dough into a rectangle, and cut it into three ropes.
Pinch 3 ends together, and braid it. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.
Transfer to a parchment paper lined or greased baking sheet, and pin the two ends together to make a ring. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking to 350ºF.

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread

Crunchy Almond Holiday Bread


For the crunchy topping:
While the bread is rising for the last time, in a processor (I use the small one) mix sugar, whole almonds and cinnamon until it’s coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the sliced almonds.

When ready to bake, mix the egg with a tablespoon of water, and brush generously but carefully the top of the dough. Sprinkle with the almond mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes, turn down the oven to 325º and bake 10 more minutes, until golden and crunchy.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Or eat warm.


Our wonderful list of holiday recipes:

Do you want to bake with us?

You have the rest of December to bake a Holiday Bread and join us.
Follow these simple guides:

1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone's posts. Please make sure that your bread is inspired by the theme!
2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
3. Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this December, 2013, and posted on your blog by December  31, 2013.

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.  #TwelveLoaves runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Renee from Magnolia Days.
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63 comments:

  1. Oh yes, it must be done even if everything else seems to be impatiently waiting to be handled! The blog must go on, especially the breads! Almonds are my favorite. I eat them every day. In my smoothie, as a snack, in my granola...I want this bread to be my new go-to bread recipe when I need a minute to stop and smell those metaphorical roses. Enjoying a slice or two of this bread would surely keep me in perspective. Thank you for all of your hard work on this bread and for what you do for the group!

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  2. Oh yes Paula, our breads really look similar. Nonetheless, I still feel like eating your's right now :)

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  3. I've got to try your dough recipe next time I make the wreath. It's interesting with olive oil and cream. So pretty, Paula! So perfect for gift giving. I dream of making fudge, quick breads, caramels and having them wrapped in a pretty way and never get around to it. Maybe I should just do it in the summer when things are less hectic and surprise my friends?:) gracias por todo!

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  4. What a gorgeous loaf Paula! Reminds me of almond rings my Swedish Grandmother used to make. So pretty. Good luck with your move!

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  5. In the middle of moving and baking in a million percent humidity and you still made Twelve Loaves?! You rock! I can't believe I missed this month! my fault :( anyway, I've always wanted to bake a braided wreath bread. . yours looks perfect and fabulous and the crunchy topping sounds amazing! I love this! Happy Holidays, Paula! wishing you a fabulous one and hope the move goes smoothly my friend!

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  6. Beautiful! Love the soft inside with the crunchy almonds on the outside.

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  7. Definitely worth the effort and making it for the holidays sounds like a wonderful idea.

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  8. Holy mother of sweetened carbs, that's a glorious loaf of bread, Paula! The texture inside is perfect, that crust looks satisfyingly crunchy, and that almond/sugar topping is divine. I can't believe you made this in the midst of all the chaos. You're amazing. There's no way I could make myself give this away. I think I'd pounce on it and start gnawing away as soon as it comes out of the oven. I hope things calm down for you soon so that you can enjoy a restful Christmas!

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  9. This looks beautiful Paula!! You have the most gorgeous recipes & pictures! and...we have to meet up before the year ends!!! when all the chaos has died down at least!! And man, the heat is really quite unbearable!! xoxo, feli

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  10. I hope the house selling and moving brings you joy among all the endless activity! I'm not sure how you found time to bake, but I am so glad you did! That is one wondrous Crunchy Almond Loaf!

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  11. Beautiful, Paula! This would give me the sustenance needed for moving! Good luck on your move.

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  12. Beautiful - I am going to have to add this one to my list for the upcoming holidays. (after seeing a couple of your breads from that book, I ended up procuring a copy of it. Have baked a few things from it and love it - so thank you for turning me on to it. I have her Bread Bible, but didn't know about some of her older books).

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  13. This is a show stopper for sure. If I saw this in a bakery window, I would stop, stare, and run in and get it right then and there. How great this would be any time of day.

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  14. What a gorgeous loaf, Paula! So much almond goodness in every slice! Good luck with your move, my friend!!! xo

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  15. Your bread Paula - as a matter of fact - any of your breads would make lovely holiday gifts. This crunchy almond wonder is especially gorgeous tho' =) Thank you for the tip about wrapping as soon as the bread cools....And congratulations / bravo on juggling the sale of a house, a new job and blogging!

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  16. I admire your dedication!!! This looks amazing. Best of luck with the move!

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  17. As always, your photos are simply incredible!!! I applaud you for baking bread during the middle of a move. Better yet, I applaud you for making an OUTSTANDING holiday bread in the middle of a move. How do you do it?
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

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  18. Increíble lo rápido que ha pasado el año, sin querer ya estamos en Diciembre y en un abrir y cerrar de ojos, ya será 2014.
    Este pan se ve maravilloso, yo tengo un libro de la misma autora, es el Bread Bible, me encanta...!!!

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  19. So beautiful, and to think you did this in the middle of moving! And in that heat. But there is something comforting about baking bread isn't there?

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  20. I know I am going to love baking this gorgeously flavored bread. Just reading your post, I am finding it so therapeutic! Thanks for sharing. (I always love feasting my eyes on your sharp food clicks)

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  21. Paula a true beauty!
    Looking forward to this month's theme, I'll have to brainstorm ;)
    Have a lovely day.
    Lou

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    1. Wonderful you want to join us this month! Looking forward to it

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  22. Paula, Simply beautiful bread! I love the holidays…it always gives me an excuse to make wonderful sweet breads and not feel guilty!

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  23. Wow - I missed the post in which you told us you sold your house! That is huge news, Paula - I hope you are doing okay with the move... kind of hard to decide whether it is better when it is cold and raining or hot and humid...

    Now, this bread looks absolutely amazing and, like you, I like a little sweetness to my breads. My pandoro was wonderful but I get the feeling I am going to like this one even more.

    Best of luck with the move! ~ David

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  24. I love sweet breads like this at the holidays! This is the perfect addition to the holiday classics like panettone and stollen.

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  25. It's gorgeous! And I love Challah - the flavor and texture - and this crunchy topping makes it so perfect for breakfast. I want to make this now!

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  26. I adore almondy things and texture looks amazing - gosh it looks so delicious, I would love a slice of that!

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  27. wow, what a great idea......
    loving crusted almond layer on my bread....
    btw, we used to add sesame seed crusted for our deep fried bund here in Indonesia...

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  28. Wow, the texture of that bread. You are a master Paula!

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  29. Good luck with your move!!! I can't even imagine how unpleasant it must be in that heat (sort of thankful for my 45 F weather right now, even if its rainy and wet).

    This loaf is gorgeous! I pinned it immediately--I have yet to make any braided bread, besides challah, so this is on my baking bucket list for sure.

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  30. Looks so, so delicious Paula. Congrats on the sale of your house! Sounds full-on, moving in the middle of that terrible heat and humidity. I've done the same here on Perth on a number of occasions but it's horrible, ugh!! Hope that you settle in soon. I definitely will be making this braid for Christmas breakfast. Delicious!! xx

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  31. ha ha yes we food bloggers always have to bake something during chaos.
    LOL so true!

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  32. Congrats on selling your house! I love the crunchy part of this beautiful bread! The flavors all sound delicious! Yum, Hugs, Terra

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  33. This is such a beautiful bread Paula! Love all that crunchy texture on top. YUM! Good luck with the move!

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  34. Moving is never, ever easy. But kudos to you for finding the time to make such lovely bread anyway! And enjoy that hot weather, Paula... it's terribly cold here in New York!

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  35. Hey, girlfriend, hope things are OK. I miss you!

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  36. Paula you a re super women. Baking and moving...I rather than bake than move any day. I hope everything goes smoothly. Take Care, BAM

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  37. You are at it again Miss Paula and in the midst of a move?!HOw impressive! A slice of this almond holiday cake would go perfectly with my tea now.

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  38. All the best with moving! Beautiful bread! :) ela

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  39. i hope your move went well, paula, and we hear from you again soon. all the best for a steamy wonderful christmas. i have been so inspired by your writing and cooking. can't wait to see more in 2014, e XX

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  40. The bread has turned out marvelous, Paula. I wish you and yours a wonderful and relaxing holiday season.
    Angie

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  41. Wow, Paula! I would have loved the chance to visit your cafe! This is just gorgeous. And I'll bet it's just as delicious as it looks.

    Wishing you a very lovely Christmas! xoxo

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  42. This bread is gorgeous! Would love some for breakfast!

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  43. Paula: What a pretty almond ring (and a flavorful one as well). Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2014!

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  44. This looks wonderful Paula! Love the golden crunchy topping, such a beautiful contrast to the soft and sweet interior. I could easily devour this whole ring, though my trousers would probably berate me for it! I'm definitely putting this on my to-make list. Yum! I hope that you and your family are enjoying a beautiful festive season so far. Merry Christmas! xxx

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  45. Another gorgeous bread from you.
    I wanted to say Merry Christmas to you!

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  46. If you had time to make this almond holiday bread with all that is happening in your life, then it must be special. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

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    Replies
    1. Just stopped back by to wish you all the best for the New Year.

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  47. Oh I would love to make this bread. So festive and delicious looking!
    Merry Christmas.

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  48. Gorgeous loaf, wishing I could rip a piece right off the screen! Happy New Year!

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  49. Just stopping by you wish you a Happy New Year!

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  50. congrats on the house - you are quite a woman to be making bread with all that going on and those temps!! the bread looks FANTASTIC - i'm simply drooling.
    Mary x

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  51. That bread is so gorgeous, Paula! Seriously. I just made a note to try a braided ring very, very soon. Good luck with your move (if you aren't done already) - I hope you had a Merry Christmas and find great irony in the fact that one of my very favorite virtual friends I've made is living where the temps are MORE than 100 degrees warmer than where I live. Isn't that unreal?

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  52. WOW this looks SO amazing :) and thanks so much for sweet words on my blog.

    Check out my new post..HOT travel inspiration....Yucatan :)

    Have a lovely day dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

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  53. it look so crunchy and fluffy in the same time, a great and fresh bread that i will eat it empty, without nothing, that how good look for me :D

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  54. Hello,
    I have a question, we want to make this bread to sell in our bakery in the Netherlands. We already tried to make it but every time it turned out to wet. In the list of ingredients it says 3 eggs but I can't find them anywhere in the recipe. So do I need the eggs or not. If so what are we doing wrong. It is more like a cake mixture. Please help!

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    Replies
    1. Hi. You're right, I corrected the recipe. The eggs are added with the warm milk mixture, the way you do with brioche recipes.
      Sorry for the mistake and hope you can try it again!
      The eggs make this bread much tender and with that brioche-like consistency that is so amazing. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

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