Happy New Year everyone! May 2017 be filled with love, laughter, health, happiness… and great food! Christmas is right behind us and it’s already time to get ready for the Epiphany. So let’s start the year with this wonderful braided almond-cream wreath!
Epiphany is a huge tradition in France, and more than a Christian feast held on January 6th only, it is nowadays often observed as a way to gather with friends and family around the typical galette des rois or Kings cake throughout January. The idea is that we hide a small piece inside the cake, and the one having the slice with this small piece becomes the king. He is then supposed to hold the next celebration, with a new kings cake of course.
When I was still a child, we used to invite each other every weekend (sometimes even several times during the same weekend, depending on the group we belonged to), and as far as I can remember, it has always been great memories with lots of laughter and happiness. Back in the days, I am sure it also helped people in the countryside to go through the cold season of winter, staying warm together around the fireplace.
As I explained in my post last year, there are two different cake traditions for Epiphany: one of them is the galette des rois (baked with pastry dough), and the other one a brioche. Last year, I shared with you a traditional Kings Cake from Provence, which is a delicious brioche, lovely decorated with candied fruits. Many of you manifested their interest for this brioche last year, and now come back this year to bake it again. Served with a cup of coffee (or tea), this kings cake makes a great French breakfast or tea-time that you could actually enjoy anytime of the year if you wish to!
This time, I am back with a slightly different version, that actually combines a little bit of both traditions (galette des rois and kings cake). Shaped into a wreath, this braided bread is less rich than a brioche, and filled with a delicious almond-cream, traditionally used in a galette des rois. I then topped it with some fresh cranberries to decorate, but you could also imagine dried fruits instead.
The dough used in this recipe is the exact same one as the one used in my Swedish cinnamon rolls “kanelbullar”, which is a top recipe on the blog from all times. It is indeed a fool-proof recipe everyone can make at home (no need to have advanced baking skills). The filling is also extremely simple – just remember to soften your butter previously.
The shaping part is the only tricky one, but once you understand how it is made, it is not that difficult anymore. Just imagine a long braid made with two locks only, and join the extremities together to give it the shape of a wreath. If you still find it difficult, feel free to leave me a comment below. I am never very far from my screen and would be more than happy to guide you. Enough talking, I’m hungry now, so it’s time for the recipe!
- 17g fresh yeast
- ¾ cup (180ml) milk
- ¼ cup (50g) white sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup (60g) butter
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp (100g) softened butter
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- 1 cup (100g) almond flour
- 1 tsp rum (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 handful of slivered almonds
- 3 tbsp hot water + 2 tbsp sugar
- Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir in a few tbsp of milk. Melt the butter and pour the milk on it.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough for approx. 10-15 minutes (very important).
- Let the dough rise while covered at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the filling: in a medium-sized bowl, beat the softened butter with sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking vigorously until pale and fluffy. Pour the almond flour, vanilla extract and rum (optional). Stir until smooth.
- Cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Take out the dough from the refrigerator, and roll out into a large rectangle on lightly floured surface. Spread the almond filling over.
- Roll the dough the long way, and cut the roll lengthwise (you will obtain two half long rolls). Braid like a braid with two locks, interlacing the two dough parts very carefully. Join the extremities with a little bit of water to help them stick together.
- Cover with a dishcloth and let rise another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and bake the wreath for about 15-20 minutes, until slightly golden-brown.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the slivered almonds, and brush immediately with the glaze. Let cool completely before serving.