Saturday, 13 December 2014

Cinnamon & Raspberry Whirl Wreath

Recently I've finally started to finally master bread and sweet enriched doughs, so I'm really keen to try out all kinds of doughy recipes at the moment, almost as proof that I'm no longer a total disaster in that department.

I stumbled across the recipe for this Cinnamon & Raspberry Whirl Wreath in the new Great British Bake Off: Christmas book and instantly knew I had to try it out and include it in my Christmas bakes. There's something ridiculously festive about cinnamon, and the aroma of freshly baked bread is an enormously comforting scent to be greeted with in the kitchen during the winter.

This is ideal for a yuletide brunch as it's an interesting centre-piece, is large enough to feed the five thousand, and as it can made and frozen ahead of time (up to 3 months) it's ridiculously easy to produce a complicated looking, freshly baked centre-piece at the last minute that guests will think you've spent hours preparing prior to their arrival. It's more than worth the extra effort as producing something like this is an excellent alternative to any normal pastries and breads, and adds a festive flourish to a standard brunch.

The original recipe can be found in The Great British Bake Off: Christmas, which I would massively recommend putting on your Christmas list or treating yourself to it as soon as possible. It's fit to bursting with Christmas recipes, but I'm most looking forward to working my way through the post-Christmas sections, and there are lots of ideas for using up leftovers that I'm dying to try!

Luckily this is the last bake to fall victim to The Great SD Card Disaster of December 9th 2014, so normal service will resume next week! For now though, the only photos I have to offer are of the finished product (and in poor lighting). Major apologies for that, and again, if you have any questions then please don't hesitate to ask in the comments below.


350ml full-fat milk
60g caster sugar
10 cardamom pods, crushed
85g unsalted butter
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 medium egg
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1tsp salt

For the filling:
4 tbsp raspberry jam
2 tsp ground cinnamon mixed with 2 tsp caster sugar


Warm the milk in a pan with the sugar and cardamom. Once steaming, add the butter and let it melt, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 4-5 minutes. Pour through a sieve into a jug, cool until only just warm, then add the yeast and egg and mix well.

Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt and make a well in the centre. Add the liquid and mix with your hands until it comes together. If it is a little too dry add a splash more milk, and if it feels a little too wet you can add a little more flour, but err on the wetter side to avoid a dry dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough with your knuckles and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle about 25 x 45cm, with the long side towards you. Spread the jam evenly over the dough and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture, leaving a 2cm border on the long side closest to you.

Roll the dough up as tightly as you can, starting from the long side furthest from you. Slice the dough in half along its length (like in my Apricot Couronne) to expose the layers. If you fancy, leave one end of the dough uncut as it makes it easier to twist the wreath without it all falling apart. Starting at one end, cross the pieces over each other, keeping the exposed layers uppermost and work down the length of the dough. Then transfer to a lined baking sheet and shape into a wreath, folding the ends under each other for a neat finish.

Cover with a clean tea towel or lightly greased cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4.

Place the wreath in the heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden, then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Add a fancy Christmas bow and serve.

I cannot accurately express how good this made the kitchen smell. I've done lots of festive baking recently, but there's just something about cinnamon permeating into every corner of the kitchen that seems to herald the beginning of Christmas.

In future I'd definitely add a lot more jam, so maybe consider upping it from 4 tbsp to 6-7 for a more fruity flavour. Also, make sure you roll the dough up as tightly as possible as otherwise you'll have large chunks of bread that could really do with the jam to moisten them.

Admittedly it looks pretty bland on the outside from certain angles, so I'm tempted to add a little drizzle of glacé icing next time to sweeten the wreath up and make it look even more festive. All minor points aside, the wreath went down really, really well at home and it all disappeared pretty quickly! It's sweet, bursting with flavour and perfect for this time of year.

So what do you think of this Cinnamon & Raspberry Whirl Wreath? Will you be buying the new Bake Off book? Do let me know!

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