Friday, April 29, 2022


Despite my focus being on sweets for quite some time now, my first love, when it comes to baking, was bread. The wholesome loaf, the heart and centre of every family meal.
Fancy breads, such as this one, were a mystery for me when I was just starting out my baking journey. I understood the concept, but the intricate layering and folding was something that was even intimidating at times. So now, when I can and I know how, I like to share my knowledge and experience with others, perhaps even novice bakers with fancy bread dreams.
The only fiddly part of the preparation is the actual slicing of the segments. To make things very simple, you cut the dough in the same fashion you would if you were making crescent rolls, only leave a little circle of dough in the very centre intact.
It truly is one of my favourites; wonderfully buttery and soft, with beautifully crispy edges, almost melting on every bite.
Honestly, it is perfect just on its own, but if you like, serve it with a savoury spread, be it red pepper relish, aubergine relish, or anything else you enjoy. And no utensils, please, this bread is meant to be broken by hand, and shared as soon as it is cool enough to handle.

For the dough
600 grams plain flour
350 millilitres warm water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
25 grams fresh yeast
25 grams brown sugar
12 grams salt
For the lamination
150 grams unsalted vegan block butter, divided

Take about a third of the butter and set it aside; and let the rest of the butter soften up to become easily spreadable.
To make the bread dough, sift the flour into a medium bowl, add in the salt, and whisk lightly. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the fresh yeast, sugar, and the warm water, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once the yeast is fragrant and bubbly, make a little well in the centre of the flour, pour it in, and add in the oil.
Mix with a wooden spoon until a somewhat sticky dough comes together. It should be ever so slightly sticky, but manageable. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a minute or two, until springy and supple. Return it to the bowl, cover, and let it rest for about 45 minutes.
After the initial rise, the dough should be rested and even softer. Turn it out onto a floured surface again, gently press it out with your hands, and divide it into seven equal pieces. Shape each of them into a ball, and let them rest for about 15 minutes; and then roll each piece into round disk about 30 centimetres in diameter.
Take the first piece of dough, place it on a large sheet of baking parchment, spread a portion of the softened butter, top with another piece, and continue stacking until all the softened butter has been used up. Take a heavy rolling pin and press out the dough stack until it flattens slightly, helping the layers stick together.
To make the shaping easier, press a mug or a small bowl into the centre of the dough. You can even leave it there for the entire shaping process, if you are more comfortable working that way.
Using a large sharp knife, cut four slices through the dough, similar to how you would cut the dough into quarters to make crescent rolls. Divide each section in half, creating eight slices. The mug or bowl that is in the centre of the dough will help you not slice the dough in half entirely.
Create two cuts into each of the section, dividing each of them into three parts, essentially creating twenty-four strands, that you will braid into eight plaits, all radiating from the centre. Tuck each of the plait ends underneath it, and transfer the whole bread to a round pan (24 cm). Remove the mug or bowl from the centre, cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rest and rise for about 30 minutes, while the oven is preheating.
Just before baking, melt the reserved butter, and brush the bread generously. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Serve immediately. Yields one large decorative loaf.