This gorgeous, vibrant, cozy Braided Sourdough Wreath Bread is here to welcome back the sun as the days grow longer yet again.
Here in Oregon it’s the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and that which marks the true beginning of winter.
I’m always moved by how our natural world works. Even though the night is long, and the winter weather has yet to pummel us with its full force, we can count on the sun returning. At the solstice there is hope for new growth and rejuvenation. We are reminded to let go of the past and move forward into the light of a new cycle.
A Sourdough Wreath and What It Symbolizes
The wreath is a continuous circle — just like our seasons, its beginning is its end.
Not unlike our sourdough cultures, that are perpetually fed, and used, and fed again. Fittingly this sourdough bread happens to be the color of a fiery sun!
The wreath’s symbolic shape is well-loved throughout history. Wreaths adorn our heads, our doors, and our tables. They remind us of the bounty of the natural world and please us with their embracing shape.
The circle shape has other important significances. It is the shape of our earth, sun, and moon. The shape of our bodies when they carry new life. The shape of the wheel of the year, and most importantly the best shape for gathering people together in community or feast.
If you make this bread, think of it as a way to harness the good intentions that new beginnings can foster. Use it to connect to those you love. Set it in the center of your table and circle around!
- 520g Roasted Winter Squash or Pumpkin Purée (2 Cups)
- 250g Active Sourdough Starter (1 Cup at 100% Hydration)
- 3 Eggs (180g)
- 130g Milk (1/2 Cup)
- 130g Heavy Cream (1/2 Cup)
- 40g Coconut Sugar (1/4 Cup)
- 15g Salt (2 Teaspoons)
- 420g Organic Sifted Whole Wheat Flour (This is similar to a whole wheat pastry flour) (3 Cups)
- 420g Organic Bread Flour (3 Cups)
- 230g Dried Cranberries (2 Cups)
- 250g Raw Pecans (2 Cups)
- 56g Butter (4 Tablespoons)
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 2 Tablespoons Water
The Night Before (Mixing and Bulk Ferment)
- In an extra-large bowl combine the pumpkin, starter, eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and salt. Use a dough whisk to combine these ingredients well.
- Whisk in the flour until completely combined. The dough will be fairly sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- Fold in the cranberries and pecans.
- Using the dough whisk, do a modified stretch and fold in the bowl by lifting the dough up on one side with the whisk and folding it back over itself. Repeat this several times, turning the bowl 90 degrees every time. Let the dough rest again for 5 minutes.
- Repeat the modified stretch and fold several times, resting between each series, until the dough has become smooth and elastic.
- Cover the dough with a lid or plastic wrap and let it ferment for 8-10 hours (overnight) at room temperature (65-70℉).
The Next Morning (Shaping, Proofing, and Baking)
- Cut a large square of parchment paper and set it near your work surface.
- Generously flour your work surface.
- With wet hands gently deflate the fermented dough in the bowl by doing a gentle stretch and fold preshaping. Lift the dough and fold it over itself, turning the bowl after each fold, allowing the dough to gather in a loose ball.
- Turn the dough ball out onto the floured surface and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Flour the top and sides of the dough lightly and start patting it into a long narrow rectangle.
- Once the dough is about 24 inches long use a bench scraper or knife to cut it lengthwise in thirds. Flour each third lightly.
- Starting at one end braid the dough snugly.
- When you reach the end of the braid, pinch the strands together and tuck the ends under to make a nice clean end. Do this to the starting end as well.
- Carefully move the braid to the parchment paper and shape it into a wreath, bringing the two ends together to touch. Cover the wreath with a towel and let it rise until doubled.
- Once doubled, preheat your oven to 375℉ with a baking stone inside. If you don't have a baking stone, see notes.
- Melt the butter and brush it over the braid.
- Use a pizza peel or pan to transfer the wreath into the oven, leaving it on the parchment paper.
- Bake the loaf for 25 minutes.
- Combine the egg yolk and water. Open the oven and gently brush the top and sides of the wreath with egg wash.
- Continue baking for 5-10 more minutes.
- Remove the wreath from the oven and let it cool on two cooling racks pushed together.
How Do I Store the Wreath?
The wreath bread is best eaten within 24 hours of baking. Because the dough contains eggs, the leftover bread is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If you have leftovers it is great toasted!
Can the Dough Be Shaped Differently?
Yes! This dough can be shaped into 2 smaller wreaths, 2 loaves, buns, and more!
Can I Substitute Flours?
Yes! The Sifted Whole Wheat flour in the recipe can be substituted for all-purpose flour or any other whole grain wheat flour. Just make sure you use the full amount of bread flour or the dough will not rise as intended.
I Don't Have a Baking Stone, Can I Substitute Another Pan?
Yes! You can shape the wreath on a large flat baking sheet or pizza pan. If you don't have an oven or bakeware to accommodate such a large wreath you can make two smaller wreaths by dividing the dough in half, shaping each half into 18-inch rectangles, and following the same braiding steps as above.
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If You Care FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper, 70 sq ft (Pack of 2)
Wooden Pizza Peel, 16" L x 14"
TeamFar Baking Sheet, 20’’×14’’×1’’, Stainless Steel
Victoria Cast Iron Pizza Crepe Pan, Dosa, Roti Tawa, Budare, 15 Inch, Black
Emile Henry Pizza Stone Round 14.5", Charcoal
Pro Dough Pastry Scraper/Cutter/Chopper Stainless Steel
Want To Learn Everything About Sourdough?
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Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better For You – And How To Start One