A lemon-scented yeast bread, sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with almond extract, is braided and formed into the festive shape of a holiday wreath and topped with sliced almonds. Wonderful for gifting.
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons active yeast
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups apple juice
1 cup butter
1 large egg yolk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 large egg white
- In a bowl, combine maple syrup, yeast, and 2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.
- In a saucepan, heat apple juice and butter, stirring until smooth.
- With a mixer on medium speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the yeast mixture. Add 1 egg yolk, 2 whole eggs, grated lemon peel, almond extract, and 2 cup whole wheat flour. Stir in up to 3 1/4 cups flour to make a smooth dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth; adding up to 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Knead for about 15 minutes. Place in lightly oiled bowl, turning once to oil the top. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down, turn onto a floured work surface, and form into 3 loaves. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Lightly oil two baking sheets. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a 24-inch length.
- On the oiled baking sheets lay the three lengths of dough side by side and start braiding loosely from the center to the ends. Loop the braided dough into a ring, join the ends, and pinch together. Repeat for the second and third loaves. Cover the braids and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Beat 1 egg white and brush over the loaves. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and the bread sounds hollow. Check bread at 15 minutes to make sure both sheets are browning evenly. If not, turn sheets.
Makes 1 loaf.