One of the other bread books I bought was Local Breads, by Daniel Leader - and I'm loving this too. New Year weekend, when I had a bit of time to browse through it, the Czech Xmas Braid caught my eye, and I thought not quite Xmas any more but close enough, and the bread looked beautiful so I thought I'd try my hand at plaiting a loaf.
I made the dough as per the recipe in the book (and yes its yeasted not sourdough - I wasn't quite prepared to try and convert the recipe, but will another time), but it was a bit more like a batter than a dough (eggs, milk and butter included - so thats probably why), so I added about 100g more flour. I used LeadDog's hydration calculator on the original recipe and it was about 80% so with my adjustment it made it about 65% - much easier to handle! Thanks LeadDog!
The braiding was way easier than I anticipated,
and once it was proofed I egg-washed it and scattered over the almonds:
then baked it. Unfortunately I was gardening when the timer went off, heard it, then promptly forgot about it! So it probably had about 10mins longer than it should have. Thank goodness it wasn't baked at a very high temp!
It's also reasonably unfortunate that my baking tray of choice was the oldest, most used and crappiest looking one I had, so the braid is a bit cammo, and you can hardly make it out. Also unfortunately, my friends ate it all so quickly I forgot to take a crumb shot! Even though they all do laugh and poke fun when I take bread photos, they eat it happily enough! Everyone decided it was most delicious and rather like a panettone in consistency. It was a nice change from the traditional Xmas cake, but I didn't like it as much as I like Stollen. So next year, before Xmas, I'll have to make one of those.
Happiness is baking bread!