Ham, Cheddar And Pesto Wreath Bread
This savoury wreath is loaded with flavours of ham, cheese and herb, then beautifully shaped to make a statement at any special occasion, or just a “random Tuesday night”. Leftovers (if there are any) are delicious lightly toasted with a generous smear of salted butter.
These “wreath” breads are similar to babka loaves in shaping, which are popping up all over social media. Whether your tastes are sweet (check out Jenny’s workshop) or savoury (keep on reading), they really do make an impression.
For this ham, cheese and herb wreath bread, I used the enriched sourdough from Jenny’s Cinnamon Wreath Bread Workshop. You could use many other enriched sourdoughs - like my cinnamon bun dough, brioche doughnut or challah bread dough. If you are not a VIP Baker’s Club member, check out the link here.
Otherwise, use your favourite enriched sandwich loaf dough. An enriched dough is one that includes milk, eggs, and/or butter. Look for a basic recipe for cinnamon rolls, light brioche or even doughnut recipes. If using commercial yeast, follow the recipe you are using. If working with one of my sourdough recipes, follow our 7-Step Process as per the recipe.
The sourdough recipe will take 2 days, but remember, it is just little bits of work over those days and lots of waiting. I find this method helpful to “fit” baking into your life around your busy schedule.
Simply mix the sourdough on Day 1, let it proof (bulk fermentation) and place it in the refrigerator overnight. On Day 2, roll, fill and shape the wreath. Let it final proof at room temperature and bake when ready. MMMmmmmmm - this type of baking is easy to fit around your busy schedule.
If you are feeling extra pressed for time, prepare the wreath in the evening and let the final proof happen while you sleep, just keep it in a cool space (50-54°F/10-14°C). The fridge is your friend. Temperature is HUGE with sourdough proofing.
For the pesto, I used the Costco Kirkland brand. If you prefer to make your own, check out Jeanine and Jack’s blog - Love and Lemons for a great pesto recipe. If you have an abundance and variety of herbs, add them for a “more than basil” pesto.
Next, grate some cheddar cheese (feel free to use any of your favourite cheeses or simply what you have on hand). Then, dice up some ham or cooked bacon. If using ham, I like to fry it for a few minutes over medium-high heat to remove some of the moisture. It just takes a few minutes but makes a big difference when you get to the wreath assembly.
ROLLING THE WREATH
After preparing your toppings, roll out the dough to about 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border around the sides and top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and diced ham or bacon. If you don't like cheddar, parmesan, swiss or gruyere are great alternatives.
SHAPING THE WREATH
Roll up the dough from the longer side so that you end up with an 18-inch log. Use a sharp knife to halve the log along its length to expose the layers, leave about 2 inches uncut to hold the dough together. Place the halves with the cut side up and use your hands to twist/braid the strands together - you will end up with about 4-5 twists in the braid
Press the end pieces together and weave back through the 2-inch loop to make the circle, aka wreath,. Press to pieces together and place in a 10-12-inch round cake pan, cast iron pan or stone baking dish. Ensure the seams are on the bottom, so it stays together during the final proof and bake.
Place the wreath in a proofing bag or cover with a damp kitchen towel, beeswax or plastic wrap. Place in a warm place (ideally 77-80°F/25-27°C) for 2-5 hours, the length of time depends on the temperature. The dough should look risen and you should notice about a 50% increase in volume.
Preheat your oven to 400°F for at least 30 minutes, then place the wreath bread into the oven. Reduce the heat to 375°F (lower if your oven runs hot or keep at 400°F if your oven tends to run cooler - remember, you have to get to know YOUR oven!). Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and the internal temperature is over 200°F.
Once baked, let it sit in the pan for about 15-20 minutes before serving. Enjoy this savoury wreath on its own or serve along side a hearty soup, chili or saucey pasta dish.
This delicious savory wreath bread is a beautiful addition to any event. Bring as an appetizer to a
For more bread inspiration, check out my other workshops HERE.
For more wild garlic/ramp inspiration, check these recipes: ramps scones, ramps spring tart, ramp ricotta baked eggs, ramps pesto pizza.
Ham, Cheddar And Pesto Wreath Bread Recipe
- Pour milk in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm. Make sure the max temperature is 105-110 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and give it a quick stir before adding the yeast. Let mixture sit for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, butter, and egg yolks and stir until combined.
- Add in the yeast mixture until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 5 minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together, beating very well in between additions. Continue beating until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 minutes.
- Oil a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until it puffs and rises, about 2 hours. Gently press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- While the dough is proving, prepare the pesto. In a food processor, add the pine nuts, chopped ramps, olive oil, lemon juice to the food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 10×22-inch rectangle. Spread ¾ cup of pesto, leaving a ¾ inch border. Sprinkle the cheese over the pesto.
- Roll up tightly from one of the longer sides, so that you end up with a 22-inch log. If the dough has softened too much for you to handle it, place on a tray and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into half lengthways. Turn the halves so the cut sides face out.
- Place the halves with the cut sides facing upwards. Lift one halved log over the other so that they form a cross at their midpoints, with the filling layers still pointing upwards. Continue to twist the strands over each other until the dough looks like a braid.
- To form a wreath, twist the two lengths together. Form the twist length into a ring, pressing the two ends together to join.
- Transfer the wreath carefully onto a baking tray. Place the tray in the middle rack in the oven.
- Bake the wreath bread at 350°F for 32-35 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped.
- Let the wreath bread cool for 15 minutes before serving with salted butter or leftover pesto.
- You can make the pesto a day ahead. Transfer the pesto to a glass container and store in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a week. Or you can freeze the pesto and thaw it when needed.
- Anytime the dough has softened too much for you to handle it, place on a tray and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Baked wreath bread can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 week. Rewarm them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees F before serving.
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!
Mention @SourdoughSchoolHouse or tag #SourdoughSchoolHouse!