There’s something about braided bread that elevates a meal, even if it contains the simplest of ingredients. After a successful braided spinach loaf, I intended to channel some Italian-style braided bread. But life had other ideas … and I made this braided breakfast loaf instead.Jump to Recipe
If you’ve been following my recent bread blog posts you know I was inspired by a Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois recipe. One of the things I love about baking your own bread is how little it costs, typically less than a dollar a loaf. One of the barriers in the past has been the time spent waiting for bread to rise and set before shaping and baking. Now that I’m basically home all day—every day—I have really enjoyed grabbing a batch of dough to create something new and delicious to eat. Braided breakfast loaf was a natural extension of the savory loaves I’ve been baking (or trying to) lately.
The night before Easter, I had planned an elegant dinner date in with dear, sweet husband with a braided loaf at front and center of the meal. I didn’t have much on hand for filling, so I grabbed some ingredients with an Italian flair: onion, garlic, black olives, parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper. I braided, sealed and washed the loaf and left it to set for the prescribed 40 minutes. When I came back into the kitchen, the loaf was not on the stone. I had been on the phone with my parents in another room and thought perhaps my husband had put the loaf in using a different stone. This didn’t make complete sense but was in the realm of possibility with hubs. The other stone was still in its place. I was at a loss. Then….
A Canine Calamity
I noticed my pup licking his chops. He had eaten the entire loaf and had just lapped up the last of what he’d apparently pulled to the floor, except for a few bits of onion and garlic. Oliver is highly food driven. This is a dog who starts in about two hours before dinner “asking” you to feed him. He comes running when he hears a container opened. I usually don’t have to hide any pills he is prescribed in cheese or peanut butter or … anything. He thinks it’s a treat. (If he hears me open any pill bottle, he comes running.) He rummages through the lawn for something to eat. He chases bugs … to eat.
Despite this, he’d never eaten food off of the counter before (which I now feel compelled to caveat with ”that I know of”). He isn’t fed people food unless it’s good for him (like carrots, peas and such). Even then, it’s never from the table—always as a treat tied to a good behavior. Our favorite game is high five—up high, down low, too slow—he gets the treat on the second down low attempt (although sometimes he beats me on down low the first time).
Beyond how much he ate, I was worried about the consequences of what he ate. What did we do before Google? In less than a minute I learned yeast was highly dangerous. The stomach is a fabulous place for yeast to ferment. Fermenting yeast, in turn, could cause belly bloat, gut twist and alcohol poisoning. Yikes! Dear sweet husband was beside himself.
Let’s Make it Brunch?
Date night quickly turned into “thank goodness there’s an emergency vet service, call and take dog to vet, learn about vet intake procedures in the time of COVID-19, have a dog undergo vomit induction and hydration treatment … and pay more for a loaf of bread ever made, bought or imagined” night. The good news is Oliver recovered completely. When I’m resting dough or even cooling bread, he now goes in his crate.
On Easter Day I prepared an afternoon brunch. This braided loaf was easy to make and nice to look at. Fry bacon, scramble eggs and then fill the shaped dough with layers of eggs, bacon, and cheese. Braid the sides over the filling and “Boom!”—brunch is served. Let’s clarify that this “Boom!” has a long fuze: about an hour and a half of setting, baking and cooling down.
About Braided Breakfast Loaf
This bread would be great with a side of fruit and yogurt. We simply ate the bread with our hands and talked about what we would serve with it or spread on it … apple butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon, syrup, honey, a fruit preserve, cream cheese….
If you reduce sodium in the recipe you’ve got a low sodium version. Substitute the protein sources for a vegetarian version, like mushrooms and plant-based sausage. Yum! You can even braid the bread without a filling and it would still be delicious. Grab a slice or three. The calorie count is friendly.
“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”― Erin Bow
Braided Breakfast Loaf
Artisan bread dough (version of your choice)
- 1 piece artisan dough about grapefruit size
Filling for a single loaf
- 3 pieces bacon
- 4 eggs
- ¼ C powdered/grated cheese cotija or parmesan
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt or coarse kosher salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- One egg
- 1 TBSP water
- Pinch lemon peel
- Pinch sea salt
- ⅛ tsp fennel seed
- ⅛ tsp sesame seed
Filling, part 1
- Fry bacon in skillet or on griddle. Absorb oil on paper towel, let cool and break into bits.
- Take a grapefruit size piece of the dough. Place dough on a floured surface. Flour dough and roll it out to about ¼ inch thick shaped to an approximately 8 x 12 rectangle.
Filling, part 2
- Whisk together egg, cream/milk and about a teaspoon of the seasoning mix, then scramble in pan on medium heat.
- Layer filling in the middle third of the bread dough, lengthwise: first egg, then bacon, then cheese. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, oregano and basil mix over the layers.
- Cut dough into an equal number of about ½-in-wide strips from either edge of the dough to the edge of the layered portion.
- Egg wash one side of strips.
- To braid, fold strips over the filled portion. Place the egg wash side over the un-egg-washed side. Continue folding until all strips are braided.
- Let sit for about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Brush egg wash over the dough and place in preheated oven. Sprinkle desired toppings across the length of the loaf.
- Bake 35-45 minutes. White bread will be golden brown; whole wheat blend bread will be a gentle brown.