Goodness. Has it been a year already since we did this? Time flies.
If you’re a new follower and are wondering what ‘this’ is, then allow me to fill you in. ‘This’ is the day that we’ll be starting the annual 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport: a series of 12 days of 12 recipes of Christmas themed goodies that I dump on you guys in rapid succession that are specifically designed to make you hungry for carbs/sugar/Christmas cheer. Because I find that is in one of my especially strong skill sets.
There will (of course) be plenty of cookies and other sweets to come in the following days, but I also wanted to try and incorporate some other types of baked goods into the series as well. Yummy Christmas food comes in sweet AND savory packages. Case in point, today’s recipe.
We’re coming right off the heels of Thanksgiving where a lot of people cook/eat abundant amounts of stuffing and/or dressing. Our family makes dressing (the stuff you cook all on its own in a separate baking dish, a very safe distance away from the raw, uncooked bird), and we like to eat it at both Thanksgiving AND Christmas. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without it.
Whether you’re on Team Dressing or Team Stuffing, chances are you’re fond of at least a core set of flavors and ingredients that can be found in both (if they’re any go0d anyway). A lot of times, bread is crumbled and these ingredients and flavors are added TO it along with some egg and chicken broth to moisten it before it gets baked into a kind of casserole.
But what would happen if those flavors and ingredients were mixed together to MAKE a scratch made yeast bread?
This. This is what would happen. And now that I’ve got your attention, I’ll elaborate. What you’re looking at is a whole wheat loaf of bread that I flavored with poultry seasoning, then rolled up with ingredients meant to remind you of the taste of stuffing and/or dressing: sage, celery, onion, browned sausage and cranberries.
I initially saw this bread on King Arthur Flour as a pull apart bread, similar to Monkey Bread where people can tear off chunks. However, in my rendition, I decided to go a little bit of a different route as I thought there could be some problems with the overall construction of the dough and keeping the filling from just collecting in pools between balls of dough–which could get particularly icky when it comes to baking sausage that will probably leak excess grease (even after you drain it)
So, my idea of ensuring that I had a loaf that would still rise and bake without falling apart was to see if I could take a similar shaping method that was done for the Pane Bianco I did a while ago and apply it here. The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, the filling is spread out, then the dough is tightly rolled up into a log. That log is split open, then turned inside out to reveal the layers created by the rolling–which, creates a very pretty presentation if I may say so myself. You’ll get huge kudos and props for a process that is actually fairly simple.
Oh, and I mentioned how delicious this stuff is, didn’t I? No? Oh, well yeah: it’s amazing. Using whole wheat flour as the base creates a nutty flavor of the dough that’s nicely complimented by the herbs from the sage, the savory meaty flavor of the sausage and the sweetness of the cranberries. They all balance one another so well. We ate this loaf both for Thanksgiving and warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave for breakfast in the days that followed and were VERY happy campers. I think that you and your wolfpack will be too should you choose to bake them a loaf.
Stay tuned for more recipes to come in the 12 Days of Christmas; we’re just getting started!
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups celery, diced
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion
- 3/4 cup cooked pork breakfast sausage
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In the bowl of a standing mixer, sprinkle the instant yeast on top of the milk. Sprinkle sugar on top of yeast and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion powder, dried thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and flour. Set aside.
Using the dough hook attachment, add the flour mixture alternately with the butter in the standing mixer. Knead for about 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth dough that no longer sticks to sides of bowl.
Grease bowl with cooking spray or oil, place dough back inside, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, make filling: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and onions, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the heat and add the sausage, chopped sage, poultry seasoning, and cranberries. Cool to lukewarm, then stir in the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble: Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into an about 22 x 8 1/2 rectangle. Sprinkle sausage/cranberry filling over dough, leaving about 1 inch of a border clear the top.
Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way, away from you. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Using kitchen shears, start 1/2 inch from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1 inch deep, to within 1/2 inch of the other end. Keeping the cut side up, form an “S” shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the “S” to form a “figure 8;” pinch the ends together to seal.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Uncover the bread, and bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.