Pizza Braid Bread

Nyssa

This was inspired by the King Arthur version 🔗 but replaces the expensive proprietary ingredients with more common everyday ones.

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Makes 1. Serves 4. Heat your (conventional) oven to 350°F. Prep time: 20 minutes + 3 hours (first rising + second rising). Cooking time: 30 minutes.


Ingredients

Dough

  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1½ tsp instant yeast
  • 1½–2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan grated cheese
  • ½ tsp powdered garlic
  • ¾ tsp salt

Filling

  • 4 oz coarse spiced sausage meat [US bulk Italian sausage]
  • 36 slices spicy salami (or salsiccia piccante) [US pepperoni]
  • ⅓ cup pizza sauce (or tomato purée)
  • 1½ cups mixed Italian grated cheese

Method

Dough

  1. Pour milk into a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 45 seconds until warm. Stir in almost all the oil. Sprinkle yeast on surface to dissolve.

  2. Mix in about half of the flour. In a small bowl mix together the herbs, Parmesan cheese, and garlic, Add this seasoning mixture with the salt to the dough and mix. Mix in enough additional flour to make a workable dough that is not too sticky.

  3. Sprinkle additional flour on kneading board and knead dough until smooth. Place in a bowl greased with remaining oil, turning dough to cover with the grease. Cover with a towel and let stand in warm place to rise for about 2 hours depending on ambient temperature in your kitchen.

    Prepare filling while dough is proofing.


Filling

  1. Roll small amounts of sausage meat in your hands to form small meatballs, about the size of a hazelnut or macadamia. Place in heated frying pan over medium heat to brown. When brown, remove from pan onto paper towels to drain off excess grease. Set aside.

  2. Place a sheet of paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Arrange about half of the salami in a single layer on paper towel. Cover with another paper towel then microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave oven and press down on top paper towel to remove additional grease from warmed salami. Set slices aside. Replace paper towels and repeat with the other half of the salami. Set aside.


Assembly

  1. After the first rise, punch down dough and remove from bowl. Place on large sheet (12×16 ″, 30×40 cm) of parchment paper. Press down into a small rough rectangle, cover, and let rest for three or four minutes.

  2. Roll out dough to cover all of the parchment paper. Use the tip of a paring knife to lightly score two lines along the middle third of the dough lengthwise to form a guide for placement of fillings.

  3. Spread the pizza sauce evenly within the scored lines, leaving ½ ″ uncovered at each short end of the dough. Place a layer of prepared salami on top of the pizza sauce, about three slices across down the length of the dough, again leaving each end uncovered. Sprinkle sausage meat meatballs over the salami layer. Sprinkle a generous layer of the mixed Italian cheese over the rest of the fillings, again leaving the ½ ″ at the ends uncovered.

  4. Using the paring knife, cut 1″ strips of dough branching out from each side of the filled center of the dough. Fold the uncovered ½ ″ of dough at the ends up and over the fillings. Braid the dough strips over the fillings by alternately lifting one strip on one side and placing it at a slight angle over the fillings, then repeating with a strip of dough from the opposite side of the filled center section. Repeat to the end of the filled center section, alternating the strips of dough. Slightly press down on the dough strips at each end to secure.

  5. Use the parchment paper to slide the filled bread onto a sheet pan. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour.

  6. After second rise is complete, bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.


Serving

  1. Leftovers can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Cover with foil if needed to prevent over-browning.

  2. If you’d like to use peppers, onions, or other vegetable fillings, you’ll need to par-cook them by sautéing in a bit of oil, then draining them on paper towels. The idea is to remove excess moisture from any fillings to avoid sogginess or excess juices bubbling out of the formed bread while baking.

  3. Pre-cooking is required for other types of meat filling such as ground beef, bacon, or chicken.


Hint: Avoid the urge to over-stuff the braid. The extra items will increase baking time to heat through causing over-browning of the bread, and also tend to bubble out of the braided dough while baking.


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