Sunflower-Shaped Bread Recipe

It takes a little time to make this chocolatey, nut-flavored bread shaped like a sunflower and baked in a camp Dutch oven, but it’s worth the effort.

| May/June 2019

 sunflower-shaped-bread
Sunflower-Shaped Bread. Photo by Leslie Lovett.

Yields 8 to 12 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half, warmed to 100 F
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package (0.25 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs, room temperature, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Oil
  • 1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 large orange
  • 4 tablespoons superfine sugar

butter
Butter is just one of the delicious ingredients in this Dutch oven bread. Photo by Getty Images/Floortje.

Directions:

1. Prepare a 14-inch Dutch oven by cutting 2 strips of parchment paper long enough to lay in the oven and overlap the edges. Fold each in half lengthwise. Lay the strips in a cross at the bottom of the oven so each end drapes over the sides, then cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the oven, and lay it on top of the crossed strips. Clip the strips to the edges of the oven to secure them.



2. Pour warm milk into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar and yeast, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes, until the yeast starts to bubble and become fragrant. If nothing happens, toss it out and begin again.

3. Measure flour into a bowl; set aside.

4. Add softened butter to the milk mixture, and stir until butter is melted. Add 2 eggs, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough starts to get sticky. Liberally sprinkle the countertop with flour, then turn the sticky dough out and sprinkle again with flour. Knead the dough, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticking to your hands. (You may not use all of the flour.) Knead for 5 to 10 more minutes.

5. Drizzle oil into a bowl at least twice the size of the dough. Set dough in bowl, turn to coat with oil, then tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in volume. You can also make the dough the night before and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. (If you do this, let it come to room temperature before shaping it the next day.)

6. When the dough has doubled in size, divide it in half. (I recommend using a digital scale to make sure the portion sizes are even.) Cover one portion with a damp towel and set it aside.

7. Divide the remaining portion into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a circle, making 4 of them 9 inches in diameter, and 1 about 10 inches in diameter. Spread a thin layer of hazelnut-chocolate spread on top of the 4 smaller circles, then stack them inside the Dutch oven. Place the larger circle on top (it won’t have any hazelnut-chocolate spread).

roll-dough
Roll half of the dough into circles, making 4 of them 9 inches in diameter and 1 of them 10 inches in diameter. Photo by Leslie Lovett.

stack-dough
Spread hazelnut-chocolate spread on top of the 9-inch-diameter circles, and then stack them inside the Dutch oven. Photo by Leslie Lovett.

8. Using a sharp knife, make 4 perpendicular cuts (2 overlapping X’s) in the center of the stack of dough, making sure each cut goes through all five layers, and that the ends of each cut stop about 1/2 inch from the edge of the circles. Then gently slip the tip of the knife beneath the bottom layer of one of the newly formed triangles, and push it up until you can flip it out and over the edge of the circle. Repeat for 7 remaining sections.

slice-dough
Gently slip the tip of a knife beneath the bottom layer of one of the newly formed triangles, and push it up until you can flip it out and over the edge of the circle. Photo by Leslie Lovett.



dough-petals
With the remaining 7 triangles, repeat pushing them up and flipping them out and over the edge of the circle. Photo by Leslie Lovett.

9. Take the piece of dough previously set aside, and slice off 1/4 of it to shape into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and set aside.

10. Divide the remaining portion of dough into 5 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Roll out each piece into a circle about 5-1/4 inches in diameter. Brush melted butter between each layer, and make a stack. Place the stack inside the outer “petals” of dough in the Dutch oven, and make 4 cuts as you did for the outer layer. Position the stack so that when you flip out the new petals, each will lay between the outer petals.

center-stack
Position the center stack so that when you flip out the petals, each will lay between the outer petals. Photo by Leslie Lovett.

11. Place the reserved ball of dough in the center of the flower. Cover, and let rest until doubled in size, about an hour.

dough-flower
Place the reserved ball of dough in the center of the "flower." Photo by Leslie Lovett.

12. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water until it’s creamy yellow. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the dough. Sprinkle a thick layer of poppy seeds over the center ball, and sprinkle sesame seeds over the petals.

sesame-seeds

Sesame seeds adorn the "petals" of Sunflower-Shaped Bread. Photo by Getty Images/bdspn.

13. Place 11 to 12 hot coals in a circle underneath the Dutch oven. Put the lid on, and cover it with 17 to 18 coals. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the bread registers an internal temperature of 195 to 200 F.

14. Let the bread rest in the oven for at least 5 minutes to cool before removing.

15. While the bread is cooling, zest the orange into a small bowl until you have 2 to 3 tablespoons. Squeeze about 1/4 cup orange juice over the zest, and stir in the superfine sugar. Spoon glaze over warm bread. Cool before serving.

For more information and tips for cooking over coals, see Dutch Oven Cooking.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Texas Iron Chef, where NDOG host and participant Leslie Lovett shares Dutch oven knowledge alongside delicious recipes.



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