DANISH CHRISTMAS WREATH
1 tablespoons dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporated milk at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
4 cups bread or unbleached flour
2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoons vanilla sugar or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hazelnuts, with brown skins on
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoons butter
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup mixed dried cherries, cranberries, wild blueberries, raisins
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Whisk in the milk, cardamom, salt,
lemon zest, eggs, and sugar. Measure 3 cups of flour into the workbowl of a processor or mixer. Quarter the sticks of butter lengthwise and then across into 8 tablespoon-size pieces. Work butter into the flour using pulsing action in a food processor or with the paddle attachment in a mixer.
Pour the yeast liquid over the cold flour and butter mixture. Pulse or mix until they form a wet dough. Add remaining cup of flour and process briefly into a sticky dough. Remove dough blade or paddle attachment and refrigerate the dough for 3 hours.
Scrape the cold dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and dust it lightly with flour. Roll the dough into a 12"x18" rectangle. Fold the long ends in to meet in the center, then fold again to make a double fold. Repeat this double fold procedure. Wrap dough air-tight and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Beat the butter into the sugar and add flavoring for the buttercream.
Toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Pulverize them in the food processor with skins on and mix with other ingredients.
Shaping and Baking Wreath:
Roll the chilled dough into a rectangle 9" wide and 24" long. Letterfold the dough into thirds lengthwise and unfold leaving a light marking of the thirds in the dough. Using a fluted pastry wheel or dough scraper make 3" long strips 1" wide at a 45 degree angle to the vertical markings on both outside thirds of the dough.
Smear vanilla and almond butter creams along the center third lengthwise. Scatter fruits and nuts on top of this flavored strip.
Now braid the strips on either side over the center portion. Lift the long braid onto a bake sheet bringing the ends together to form a circle. Let the dough rise in a warm (75 degrees) spot, covered, for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the puffed dough lightly with egg wash and strew on the almonds. Bake the wreath for 18-20 minutes.
Cool the wreath on a rack and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 1 glorious wreath, or 2 straight braids.
This recipe has been adapted from an article on Danish Baking in Cooking magazine published in January 1979.