Easy Braided Parmesan Bread

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My son loudly announced at his grandma’s house on Wednesday that he will be moving out in just 4 years. We will see because in four years he will only be 17, but I love the confidence and sense of self he has started to show. He is growing, learning and has big dreams for his life. I hope he continues to grow in confidence over the next four (or five) years because I know starting out on your own takes incredible confidence and there can be such a steep learning curve.

My husband is fond of asking the boys what they are interested in and I have really come to love and appreciate this question. It’s not nearly as overwhelming as what is your passion? What do you want to do with your life? What do you want to be when you grow up? Those are hard enough to answer as adults. But because of the simple wording he uses, my husband has artfully built relationships with our sons biased on his interest in them and has pointed them toward their future possibilities while allowing them the gift of growth and change. And I am so thankful for that. Even if it means they are counting down the days to their adulthood.

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This week when we have made bread I chose to take a step back. The boys have made each loaf by themselves with just a little guidance when they got stuck. Hopefully, when they do venture out on their own they will have mastered at least a few techniques and when they are farthest from home and most lonely, they will be able to make a fresh loaf and fill some of nature’s most basic needs. To nourish themselves and feel the comfort of home.

This parmesan loaf is a hearty bread that is especially good for muffuletta style sandwiches or to be cut into wedges and served with some dipping oil and cheese. And although it looks complicated the braiding processes is manageable with a little patience. Cutting the roll into halves without them falling apart is usually the most difficult step. But even in that the rising and baking process is pretty forgiving of past mistakes. You’ll be able to confidently bake this up in no time.

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Parmesan and basil braided brioche

I like to cook this loaf in a cast iron skillet or a nice pie pan with deep sides. You’ll want to grease them with oil or butter before you place the loaf in for rising.

Makes 2 eight inch loaves.

Ingredients:

8oz. Milk

4oz. Unsalted butter

0.05 oz of Salt

1.75 oz. Sugar

0.5 oz. Yeast

1 Large egg

16oz. Bread flour

Filling:

1/4 c. Chopped fresh basil (or to taste)

2 c. Grated parmesan

Directions:

1. Add milk, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over med-low until the butter is melted. You don’t want it to boil or even simmer just melt the butter. If your milk is steaming let it cool to the touch before adding it in step 2.

2. In a large mixing bowl add the sugar,yeast, and egg. Mix until the yeast and sugar are all wet. Add your milk mixture and whisk lightly. Add flour and mix until incorporated.

3. Knead on a lightly buttered* surface until the dough is light and elastic.

4. Cover with a light cloth and proof on the counter until the dough is doubled in size. About 1 hour.

5. Turn the dough out of your bowl onto a buttered* counter/ surface and cut in half.

6. Working one at a time roll each half into a long rectangle about 14×9. Sprinkle on half of the basil and parmesan. Roll like you would with cinnamon rolls.

7. Cut the roll down the entire center lengthwise. This part can be a bit of a mess but don’t worry, the rising process will help even everything out in the end. Take the two halves and place them side by side. Starting at the top just place one half over the other and repeat all the way down. Then simply roll it into itself. See photo! Trust me it’s way easier than it sounds.

8. Place each loaf into a buttered cast iron skillet or deep sided pie pan and let it rise until doubled in size. About 30 minutes.

9. Preheat oven to 350f and cook loaves for 30 to 45 minutes until parmesan loafs are golden brown on top and have that hollow-ish bread sound when you rasp on them with your fist. Don’t burn your self just give the top a quick knock. If it sounds kinda empty you should be good!

*this is a very sticky dough so if you have a mixer with a dough hook I recommend using it on about 2 for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, using a buttered surface helps keep the dough from sticking without adding extra flour to it.

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What’s one thing that just comforts you and makes you feel home?

Xoxo Mandy

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