HefeKranz (Yeast Wreath)

March 22, 2008


Hefekranz is one of traditional German’s bread. It is a sweet yeast bread braided into the shape of a ring or left straight (oblong).
There are many versions of this recipe but the main ingredients are usually butter, yeast, sugar, flour and eggs.
My Kranz was made for easter, so I put an egg in the middle but you can shape it as you want.

500 g flour (I use high protein flour)
80 g butter
25 g fresh yeast or 8,5 gr dry yeast
50-80 g sugar (depends how sweet you want it)
1/4 tsp salt
125-150 ml milk
2 medium eggs
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp butter or oil
1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water

Sliced almonds for topping

In a bowl, combine 100 ml of the milk, 1 tbps of the sugar and 50 gr of the flour. Mix until smooth; the mixture should resemble pancake batter. Add the yeast. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place to proof for 10 to 15 minutes. Mixture will foam and resemble a dough.

While the yeast is proofing, put in the rest of the flour into a large bowl. Add butter. Using the paddle beater, mix on low to medium spead until butter is combined. The butter will coat the flour, delaying gluten formation, and making a richer and softer bread.

Combine remaining sugar, remaining milk, eggs, salt and lemon zest; stir until sugar dissolves.

After the yeast has proofed, make a well in the flour. Pour milk-egg mixture and proofed yeast into the well in the flour. Stir together until a ball of dough forms.

Dust your kneading surface with some flour. Drop the dough ball onto the kneading surface, and dust again if necessary. Keep additional flour on hand for dusting while you knead. Knead dough until a springy ball. The dough should still be somewhat soft, and not very sticky.

Use 1 tbsp butter or oil to grease a bowl. Drop dough in bowl and turn to coat with the fat. Cover with a clean dishcloth, place somewhere warm, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch down.

To shape the wreath:
Divide into three even pieces. Roll each piece into a rope. Lay the ropes side by side; beginning from the middle, braid loosely first to one end of the ropes, then to the other. When the second half of the loaf is braided, you will have to braid backwards. Move braid to a buttered cookie sheet and form into a circle. If the circle has little room in the center, place an inverted, buttered, oven-save tea cup or small ramekin in the center. If the braid is tight, it will pull apart while rising and baking, and not look as nice.

Form dough into two straight braids. Divide dough in half; divide each half into thirds. Roll each third into 25 to 30 cm ropes, and loosely braid three ropes together, starting in the center. Place braids onto a buttered cookie sheet, with about 4 to 5 inches of space between them.

Cover the shaped dough, place in a warm, draft-free spot, and allow to rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

In a small bowl or ramekin, combine egg yolk with 1 tbsp or less of water; beat until smooth. Brush dough with egg wash, being sure to cover sides of the braid. Press sliced almonds onto each loaf.

Place cookie sheet onto the middle rack, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown (the baking time will vary, depends on your wreath size and your oven).


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