Braiding a challah, then curving it and joining the two ends makes it into a beautiful braided crown or wreath. This one contains pecans and apricots and is sure to please. Prepare the dough by hand, by mixer, or by food processor.
- Basic Challah Dough
- ½ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (for glaze)
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
1. Prepare dough. Then, put apricots in a bowl, add enough warm water to just cover, and soak 5 minutes. Drain well, put on paper towels, and pat dry. Chop apricots. Mix them with pecans. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
2. After dough has risen for second time, sprinkle about ½ of apricot mixture over dough and knead in lightly by slapping dough in bowl. Repeat with remaining apricot mixture. Turn dough out onto work surface. Knead thoroughly until apricots and pecans are well distributed.
3. Cut dough into 3 equal parts. Knead each to distribute fruit evenly and to coat fruit with dough so that there are not many pieces of fruit on surface. Roll each piece of dough to rope about 25 inches long and about 5/8-inch wide and tapered slightly at ends, lightly flouring surface only if dough sticks.
4. To braid the dough, put the ropes side by side, with one end of each closer to you. Join the ends farther from you, covering the end of the rope on your right side with the end of the center rope, and on top of that, the end of the left rope. Press joined ends together. Bring the left rope over the center one. Then bring the right rope over what is now the center rope. Continue bringing the outer ropes alternately over the center one, braiding tightly. Pinch each end. Tuck ends underneath loaf.
5. Set braided bread carefully on prepared baking sheet. Bring the 2 opposite ends of braid together, curving braid into a wreath, and pinch ends tightly together.
6. Cover with a warm, slightly damp cloth and let rise about 1 hour 15 minutes or until nearly doubled. Preheat oven to 375°F.
7. Brush risen loaf gently with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake 35 minutes or until top and bottom of bread are firm and bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool on a rack.
Nutritional information is based on 16 servings and includes the optional sesame seeds. Nutritional information does not include Basic Challah Dough. For nutritional information on Basic Challah Dough, please follow the link above.