I hadn’t made bread in a while. I wasn’t quite sure why, but got away from it when we started the moving process. Making bread isn’t complicated, but you do have to commit to the process, and for months I wasn’t ready to commit.
Overnight that seemed to change, and I needed the therapy of kneading dough. Kneading dough is something you can lose yourself in, which probably also explains why cats insist on squishing our bellies over and over again. It’s a comforting action, moving your hands across the dough and back again.
Making bread again perfectly coincided with Thanksgiving, and so this sweet cranberry breakfast bread was born. It was inspired by a Swedish tea ring I made years ago, but I wanted a filling that used up the last bits of the cranberry sauce.
I’m the only one in the family who eats cranberry sauce, so we always have leftovers. Rather than keep it regulated to its savory application or making this favorite cranberry pecan streusel coffee cake, I turned to this bread and mixed the sauce with butter, almonds, sugar, and flour for a filling that was dolloped onto rolled-out dough.
The dough is then rolled and cut down the length so the filling is exposed, and twisted together to make a lovely shape. This is a great way to present any filled bread, and works with loaf breads as well as round loaves.
After baking, a drizzle of glaze firmly puts this into the realm of a sweet bread. This tender, buttery bread is excellent for breakfast all on its own, or served as part of a larger spread alongside eggs and roasted breakfast potatoes. It’s a centerpiece to be sure, and deceptively easy.
Make this cranberry breakfast bread for brunch, and take your time during the kneading process. The dough is the one in charge here, and we could all use the opportunity to take a moment.
For the Bread:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 eggs
For the Filling:
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup cranberry sauce
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the Topping:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Combine milk and water and heat to about 90°F. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in yeast, sugar, 1 cup flour, and salt. Stir in butter and eggs.
- Mix in 1 cup flour and then add more, a little bit at a time, until a shaggy dough forms. Flour a work surface and turn out dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour to prevent sticking, about 8-10 minutes. The dough should be soft and supple.
- Grease a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, cover, and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour to 90 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together butter, cranberry sauce, almonds, flour, and granulated sugar for the filling.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto floured work surface. Roll dough to a rectangle about 8x16 inches. Scatter or spread filling on top of dough, then roll up the dough lengthwise.
- Cut the dough down the middle lengthwise, then turn the cut edges up. Twist the two pieces together, keeping the cut edges up, then form into a circle, tucking in the ends.
- Carefully transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the bread for 25 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Mix together powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract until smooth, then drizzle over warm bread.
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