Chocolate and cranberry Christmas wreath

This month I attempted my second ever Fresh From The Oven baking challenge – a Christmas Wreath.

I changed up the flavours a bit to suit what I had and what the friendly pony would like to eat – chocolate and cranberry with an orange glaze rather than fruit and nuts – but I think it was quite a festive combination.

I was really happy with how this turned out – I’m still no bread expert and I found the dough quite wet and tricky to work with, but the taste and texture were great, and I thought the twisting pattern looked pretty when the slices were cut!

Chocolate and cranberry Christmas wreath (recipe adapted from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families):

Serves 8-10

For the dough:

  • 3 tsp dried yeast
  • 315ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g softened butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 420g plain flour

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined. The recipe says to knead on a floured surface, but I found the dough really wet and sticky so I just kneaded it in the bowl, for about 10 minutes.

Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

For the filling:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface, knead for a couple of minutes then roll or stretch out into a large rectangle, mine was about 30cm x 20cm. Spread the filling evenly onto the dough, then roll the dough up from one of the long sides.

Cut the roll in half, lengthways, then twist the two halves together and bring the ends around so it creates a ring. Pinch the ends together, then leave on a baking sheet to rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled again.

Brush with milk then bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, or until golden and cooked through.

You can use any icing you like to glaze, but I made a simple orange one with 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice, and drizzled on top. Cut into slices and serve while warm.

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Cinnamon rolls – Fresh From the Oven

As much as I love to bake, yeasted products are not my forte.

I’ve only started baking my own bread in the past year, and to be honest I just don’t find it as exciting as sweet baking so I don’t do it as often.

I’ve decided that in order to be a more rounded baker, I need to focus a little more effort on breads and yeasted goods. For that reason, this month I joined Fresh From The Oven, a blogging group baking their way through the world of breads, one loaf at a time.

The October challenge was cinnamon rolls – a nice easy one to ease me into it!?!

I don’t have a clue what I’m doing with sweet yeasted rolls, so I followed the recipe to the letter, apart from substituting sultanas for apples as i had a glut to use up.

Every stage of the process was completely new to me, and as with all breads it was rather time consuming – but well worth the effort!

The icing on top is a stroke of genius – they make the rolls sticky, sweet and moist, and help to keep them fresher for longer.

All in all, I think that for my first Fresh From The Oven challenge I did a pretty good job – the photos don’t do them justice!

You can find the original recipe for cinnamon rolls at Things We Make – give it a go!