Christmas Pull - Apart Bread Wreath with Baked Camembert and Cranberry Dip
Serves 8 - 12 as a starter or side
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing
406g warm water (see method for temperatures)
140g soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
700g bread flour
7g instant yeast
2 tsp golden caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar
20g kosher salt
Fine semolina flour, for dusting
1 ripe (within the last 5 days of its date stamp) camembert round
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 egg, plus tsp of water
3 tbsp sesame seeds
3 tbsp poppy seeds
5 tsp cranberry sauce
Lightly grease a large bowl or proofing tub with extra-virgin olive oil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add two-thirds (271 grams) cold tap water to one-third (135 grams) boiling.
Add the soft butter (it’s important the butter is soft to ensure it mixes well) and mix with a wooden spoon. The butter won’t dissolve, but it should be very soft. Add the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix on a low speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is silky and slightly elastic. With wet hands, lift the dough and shape into a smooth ball before transferring it to your oiled bowl or proving tub. Cover with plastic wrap or an airtight lid. Let proof for 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
Grease the flat pan with butter, then scatter over a thin layer of fine semolina flour. Remove the packaging on the camembert and place it in the center of the pan. Cut a few deep slices across the center of the cheese, then insert small sprigs of rosemary into them.
On a lightly floured surface, use a scale to divide and weigh the dough for 3 equal pieces. Stretch each piece out to roughly 60cm (24 inches). Lay the pieces side by side and begin plaiting the dough: cross the right strand over the middle strand, then cross the left over the now-middle strand. Continue the braid, alternating right and left strands.
Once the plait is finished, curl it around the camembert on the baking tray. If you have excess dough, cut the overlapping section and discard (or keep to bake on its own). Pinch the ends together so it forms a closed wreath around the cheese.
In a small bowl, mix the egg and teaspoon of water together to make an egg wash.
Brush the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle over poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Use each plait as a reference, or get creative with a pattern of your own!
Cover the dough with a large bowl, tray, or place inside a plastic bag, with the end folded over to keep any air out, and let the dough proof for 30 minutes.
Fire up your oven, aiming for 330°C (626°F) on the stone baking board inside. Use the thermometer to quickly and accurately check the temperature.
Place the tray in the oven and turn off the gas, or, if using wood or charcoal, close the baffle to dampen the flames.
Cook for 9 minutes in the residual heat, turning the pan 180 degrees halfway through.
If cooking with gas, turn the oven back to its lowest setting. If cooking with wood or charcoal, open the baffle but continue to maintain a low flame, using a charcoal bed if possible. Cook for a further 9 minutes, making sure to turn the pan every 2 to 3 minutes. The dough should be puffed up, smell delicious, and turn a deep golden brown.
Remove the tray and spoon cranberry sauce into the melted cheese. Serve right away