I know. Another braid. It's an obsession. Perhaps it's because I grew up with braids. Yes, I was the Dutch girl with braids. Tempting, they were (at least to Dennis D, who sat behind me in fourth grade and played giddy up with them on a daily basis). At any rate, I have to share my one last braid recipe with you, this time a savory one.
You may recall that a few months ago I had the opportunity to visit the Red Gold Tomato Company. I won a blogger contest and was able to travel to Indiana, where I met up with six other bloggers and was treated to a tour of the Red Gold facilities and a night to remember at The Taste of the NFL. While there, we were introduced to the family behind the Red Gold Company, the Reicharts. I got the feeling they were a little confused as to what kind of recipes The Dutch Baker's Daughter could come up with using canned tomatoes. How do baking and canned tomatoes go together? I ended up promising Brian Reichart, Red Gold's CEO, that I would come up with a pizza bread of sorts. I think a pizza braid fits the bill, don't you?
Don't think I'm really a Red Gold fan? Check out my cupboard....
I had a flavor combination in mind when I started my little pizza braid project....I was looking for a slightly sweet, soft dough wrapped around a spicy sauce. Contrasting flavors, if you will. So, while you can certainly take a shortcut and use frozen bread dough or canned pizza dough, I urge you to try my homemade variety...you won't be sorry.
First, we want to start with the sauce. I made this right before I used it, but it may taste even better if you make it a day ahead. Feel free to add a little salt--we cut back on it at our house.
Spicy Pizza Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup white wine
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and the wine; cook for an additional minute. Stir in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes and black pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the vinegar; cool.
On to the dough--
First we start with a "sponge"...it gets the yeast going...
For the dough, I borrowed heavily from the King Arthur Flour braid recipe, but I had to cut back on the sweetness and add a bit of savory....adding a little Parmesan cheese helped with that.
Pizza Braid Dough
3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F.)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
all of the sponge
3/4 cup sour cream
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups Spicy Pizza Sauce
2 1/4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Assorted veggies and or meats of your choice
For the sponge, combine the water, sugar and yeast in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, eggs, sugar, Parmesan cheese, and 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the mixture until the dough is rough and shaggy. Switch the paddle for the dough hook and knead the dough at medium speed for about 6 minutes, or until smooth, adding additional flour if needed.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 60 to 90 minutes or until about double in size.
Gently deflate the dough and divide in two. Cover one of the halves with plastic wrap and set aside. Roll the remaining dough into a 10"X15" rectangle (do this over parchment paper or a silpat for easy transfer on to the baking sheet).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese down the center third of the dough. Top with 1 cup of the pizza sauce and about a cup of assorted chopped veggies. I used onions, green peppers, olives, and spinach leaves, but you could add pepperoni, or crumbled sausage, as well. Top with an additional 1/2 cup of cheese.
Cut 1" crosswise strips down the sides of the rectangle. Starting from one end, bring one of the dough strips across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side, crisscrossing the dough strips. Continue down the rest of the braid, alternating strips to form the loaf. Repeat the rolling, filling and braiding with the second braid. Set both braids aside, cover lightly, and allow to rise for 45 to 60 minutes. Brush each loaf gently with an egg wash (one egg beaten with a pinch of salt). Sprinkle with dehydrated onions or poppy seeds, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
I didn't brush the first loaf with egg wash...it wasn't as pretty.
I ended up sprinkling dehydrated onions on the top of my braid...it gave it a little something.
These take a little time to make, but oh so worth it...
I would love to hear what you would put in your pizza braid. Sauerkraut? Baked beans? It's all good.