T-H-E Nut Braid - As close as it gets
October 18th, 2013

A short stint to this enchanted place in Ireland, where we attended this Olympus workshop and met some of the most talented photographers, was crowned with a nasty cold once we arrived back home. A really nasty one. Thylehogichi, chicken soup and probably a bath tub filled with herb tea were in order, for longer than anticipated.

Nut Braid

Both on my desk and in my kitchen – logically – my cooking and baking list has developed a massive backlog. Right now I especially crave all kinds of cakes from my childhood. I’ve already tried to compile a list of my very favorite classic cakes, but keep struggling every time. Should Donauwellen be ranked higher than the Raspberry Sponge Cake Roll? Is the Eggnog Bundt Cake more of a classic than The Tipsy, Nutty, Chocolatey Cake? It probably doesn’t really matter, but still, that’s what list lovers do. Right?

Nut Braid

Undisputedly ranking very high on my imaginary Favorite Of All-time Classic Cakes list – probably at 4th or even 3rd place – is this classic nut braid. I use my grandma’s recipe for a soft yeast dough (very sticky to handle, but absolutely worth it) and have experimented with the nut filling for the last years, and I think I found my favorite. Don’t be put off neither by the long list of ingredients for the filling (they make for a well-rounded flavor) nor by the braiding process, it took me numerous bakes to reach the state where it looks neat and even. Then this nut braid will make it onto your favorites list, too. Promised!

Just keep in mind – crucial for a perfect result: Don’t be afraid of sticky dough. Don’t skimp with the kneading. Don’t overbake it.

Nut Braid

Prepare the dough:
Heat the milk in a small pot until lukewarm, then remove from stove. Sieve flour into a bowl and make a depression in the middle. Crumble the fresh yeast into the center and pour about 1/3 of the milk over it. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let the pre-dough rise for about 15 minutes, until slightly bubbly. Cut the butter into cubes, add it to the rest of the milk and heat just until melted, then remove from heat.
Add the remaining dough ingredients and beat well (I use a KitchenAid with dough hook on 4). This dough will be very sticky and NOT clean the sides of the bowl by itself, but 5 to 7 minutes of kneading will improve the texture a bit (if you are afraid of sticky yeast doughs, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of additional flour within the first minutes). Scrap it onto a well-floured work surface, shape it – with floured hands – into a ball and put back into the floured bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled.

Nut Braid

Prepare the filling:
Start by roasting the nuts together with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a wide pan until golden and fragrant (don’t be tempted to do anything else at the same time, nuts burn fast, turn them constantly!). Next heat the milk, butter, chopped marzipan, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan and stir until marzipan and sugar have dissolved, then remove from heat and add honey, liqueurs and finely grated zest of half a lemon. Pour over the nuts, combine with a spoon until a smooth paste forms and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before spreading it onto the dough (it thickens as it cools). Waiting longer will result in a rather dense paste, that is hard to spread (emergency rescue: add a little milk).

Nut Braid

Shape it:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat egg and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Scrap the risen dough onto a well-floured work surface, use your hands to press and pull it into rectangular shape, then roll it out with a rolling pin (~35 x 35 cm, ~14 x 14 in), dusting with flour when necessary. Gently and evenly spread the nut paste onto the dough, leaving a 2 cm edge all around. Roll up and carefully transfer to the baking sheet.
Now on to the more delicate part! Cut the roll in half with a large knife, but be sure to leave the top 5 cm/2 in intact. Key is it to braid the two strands not only around each other, but to always place the cut side upwards. As always, the more often you bake this recipe, the neater the results will turn out! Lastly tuck both ends under, this helps to give it a clean and plump look. Brush it generously with the egg milk, start with the dough parts, then the filling. Now preheat the oven to 180°C while the braid gets its final rise (20 to 30 minutes).

Nut Braid

Bake & finish:
Bake on middle level for 30 to 34 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the nuts and glaze: Mix the apricot jam (press through sieve first, if chunky) and 1-2 tablespoons of water in a small pot and heat shortly until smooth and runny. Roast the nuts in a pan until golden. Remove the braid from the oven and generously brush with the apricot glaze. Sprinkle with the roasted nuts and let cool until cutting the first slice. Tastes great the next day, the day after that and even three days later (well covered).

T-H-E Nut Braid

Recipe source: inspired by my grandma

Active time: 45-60 minutes, rising: several hours, baking: 30-34 minutes

.

Ingredients:

Dough:

200 ml milk

425 g all-purpose flour (plus additional as needed )

20 g fresh yeast

75 g butter

50 g sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 egg (M)

Filling:

100 g ground almonds

100 g ground hazelnuts

1,5 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

100 ml milk

25 g butter

50 g marzipan

50 g brown sugar (Demerara or light Muscovado)

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1-2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp Rum

1 tbsp Amaretto

1 organic lemon

Glaze:

1 egg (M)

2 tbsp milk

30 g sliced hazelnuts or almonds

3-4 tbsp apricot jam

1-2 tbsp water

Comments

Oct 18th,
2013

Oct 18th,
2013

Oct 18th,
2013

Oct 18th,
2013

Oct 19th,
2013

Orsolya

Oct 19th,
2013

Oct 20th,
2013

Oct 21st,
2013

Oct 21st,
2013

Bianca

Oct 23rd,
2013

Kyra

Oct 23rd,
2013

Alana

Oct 24th,
2013

Chris

Oct 25th,
2013

Ellen

Oct 27th,
2013

Angelyne

Oct 28th,
2013

Ivana

Oct 29th,
2013

Nov 1st,
2013

Kiri

Nov 1st,
2013

Nov 3rd,
2013

Heiko

Nov 4th,
2013

Nov 7th,
2013

Nov 16th,
2013

Nov 17th,
2013

Amy

Nov 19th,
2013

paulaj

Nov 23rd,
2013

Kurt

Nov 24th,
2013

Stefanie

Nov 24th,
2013

Stefanie

Nov 24th,
2013

siabug

Nov 26th,
2013

Victoria

Feb 2nd,
2014

Apicole

Feb 3rd,
2014

Ute

Feb 5th,
2014

Leave a comment
Required
Valid eMail Required