Monday, April 15, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Parmesan Braid with variations


           Confession time: I can work myself up into a frenzy when it comes to bread baking. I can either get so excited over watching a loaf expand in the oven or worry myself sick over a new technique. It's crazy because I can hear my husband in the background whispering, "You know this is supposed to be fun,right"? I DO know that it's supposed to be fun and a stress reducer..but I guess I missed the memo on that..or just choose to ignore it when it suits me.

Take this bread..this was the first time I have attempted the six-strand braid. I didn't think I could do it and if I could then it was going to come out bad. I watched the video that was included in the recipe and had my husband watch it to make sure I didn't mess up. Seriously? one of the easiest things ever to do. The result is just beautiful and I stared at it like I just produced a loaf of gold. As my husband and I were oohing and aahhing over how incredible it tasted, we both stopped at stared at each other ( I swear we share the same brain sometimes). We both instantly said how neat it would be to do a rainbow colored bread but with natural colors. So that ment I needed to make roasted green and yellow peppers.


            So in order to do this, I would need to make 3 different colored doughs and then start braiding them all together in different variations. This was epic..a major undertaking for a kitchen with only one workable counter top and an oven that can only hold one loaf at a time.


         I started off by roasting the green and yellow peppers and got really excited by the beautiful puree colors. I envisioned this dark rainbow braided loaf that would be worthy of front page news.


       I lined all my bowls up,measured everything,grabbed my husband to help and away we went! We mixed and kneaded and braided and waited and waited and waited. The first loaf came out and my heart sank. You couldn't see the green and yellow strands. The red was the only thing to show up..perhaps I said, that is why you only see roasted red peppers in jars. It's such a vivid color and the green and yellow really mellowed out. So we waited until we could slice it open.


      The sliced loaf still doesn't show the colors very well. You can slightly see the light green and yellow on the bottom right of the bread and in the upper left corners but not all what I had expected. However, once we tasted the bread it didn't matter what it looked like because it was by far our favorite tasting loaf of bread. The addition of the green and yellow peppers really bumped the flavor up big time. The green actually took on a jalapeno flavor almost and the parmesan cheese thats in it was really brought forward aswell.

One other thing I found interesting..the two loaves that required me making the roasted peppers came out way fluffier than the bread that used the roasted red peppers from a jar. The 3 loaves came out twice the size of the original and I have no clue as to why that is..maybe because there was more yeast? probably..Whatever the case may be, I am sticking with my rainbow braid. We got 3 huge beautiful loaves of bread and Im thinking that by adding in some food coloring I could get the deep colors I am after.

This bread is so easy to make and the taste is out of this world. We ate it plain,with butter on it and with just slices of cheese. You don't want anything over powering with it or it will take away from the taste of the bread -- and that would be a real shame. If you aren't into the six-strand braid then do the three and it will still look great.

The video on how to make the six-strand braid can be found HERE.

Roasted Red Pepper Bread

1-1/2 cups Roasted Sweet Red Peppers,drained ( for me that was 2-1/2 peppers)
2-1/4 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
2 TBS Warm Water
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Warm 2% Milk
2 TBS Butter,softened
1-1/4 tsp. Salt
3-1/4-3-3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 Egg
1 TBS Water

Place red peppers in a food processor; cover and process until pureed. In a large bowl,dissolve yeast in water. Add the red peppers,the cheese,milk,butter,salt and 1-1/2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a floured surface,knead until smooth and eleastic,about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl,turning once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled,about 1 hour.

Punch down down. Divide into six pieces..Watch the video HERE on how to create the braid. Place the braided dough on a greased cookie. Cover and let rise until doubled,about 1 hour.


       Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. In a small bowl, combine egg and water; brush over the braids. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when taped.

Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: Erin Cooks