April 20, 2011
If you want to take the look of your Easter bread a few steps further, try one or both of these ideas from Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Breads Every Day."
Braiding a plain loaf:
Once the dough has risen, cut the dough into three equal pieces. Use a gentle but firm rocking motion to shape the dough into three equal strands.
Place the strands parallel to one another. Beginning in the middle of the loaf, overlap one of the outside strands over the middle strand.
Then take the opposite outside strand and cross it over the new middle strand. Continue this pattern until you get to the ends of the strands. Pinch tips together to seal.
Rotate the loaf so the unbraided side is facing you and repeat the pattern on that end.
Cover the dough loosely and allow it to rise at room temperature for two to three hours or refrigerate overnight. The dough should increase to about 1 1/2 times its original size.
Combine 1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter; 1/2 cup flour; pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional), and 1 tablespoon sliced almonds (optional) in a food processor and pulse to mix. The mixture should resemble cornmeal. Follow directions for filled loaves.
— Jennifer Day, special to Tribune Newspapers
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