Give your table a festive touch by making this Christmas bread wreath. Topped with rosemary, cranberries and pine nuts, this bread is full of flavour
- For the bread:
- 500g (1lb) strong, plain white flour
- 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- 1 level tsp salt
- 1 level tsp caster sugar
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- For the topping:
- A good handful of fresh rosemary
- A good handful of fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- You will also need:
- Baking sheet, buttered
To make the bread: Tip the flour into a bowl (of an electric mixer with a dough hook, if possible) and stir in the yeast, salt and sugar.
Add 3 tbsp of the oil to 300ml (½ pint) warm water and pour it into the flour. Mix well for 5 mins in the mixer, until smooth and elastic. If making it by hand, mix well and knead for about 8 minutes. Don’t flour the surface, and rub oil on your hands to knead it, otherwise the dough will be dry.
Form the dough into a roll and keep rolling it, using both hands, to make an even-width “sausage”, about 70cm (27½in) long. Put the dough on the baking sheet in a circle (about 25cm/10in in diameter) and join the ends together.
Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30-40 mins, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
Set the oven to 220°F/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Take the cling film off, press rosemary sprigs gently into the dough all round the top to look like a wreath. Add the cranberries and sprinkle with pine nuts. Cover dough and leave for 5-10 mins to rise again, but if it’s already very near the edges of the baking sheet, sprinkle with the salt, drizzle with the oil and bake just below the centre of the oven for 15 mins. Turn the oven temperature down to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 15 mins, until golden and the base is crisp but not too brown.
Slide the loaf on to a cooling rack and serve warm, as a centrepiece for nibbling on at the start of a meal.
If you have a dough-proving setting on your oven, the bread may only take 30 minutes to prove.