This post was originally published here on December 19, 2014. I’ve since updated the photographs and text. Please let me know if you try it out for the Holidays!
I sure hope so. Because today I’m bringing back an old favorite from way back in the day (circa 2014, which is like an eternity in the blog-o-sphere): my Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread.
I still remember the first time I ever made this recipe. Because as soon as I pulled it out of the oven, I immediately snapped a photo of the finished product and sent it to my Mom with the caption “Look! I made something pretty!”. I was so stupidly proud of how beautiful the bread turned out, that I just had to share that moment with someone. And my Mom was the obvious choice. Because really, who else can we brag to about all our accomplishments, even if they seem silly and insignificant?
In my eyes, however, this Braided Cardamom and Chocolate Hazelnut Bread was a masterpiece of epic proportions. Luckily, my Mom agreed with me.
Since that fateful day, I’ve made several other versions of this sweet, yeasted bread. The base recipe never fails to rise and bake up perfectly. And it’s show stopping presentation is one that always has my family and friends ooh-ing and aah-ing. It’s perfect for a special occasion, like Christmas brunch. Or for any weekend morning when you have a few hours of extra time on your hands. I love waking up early on a cold Winter morning to start the dough rising while I enjoy my first cup(s) of coffee. Nothing fills my kitchen with warmth and happiness like fresh, homemade baked goods.
Please don’t be intimated by the braiding part (steps 10 and 11 in the recipe instructions). It’s really not that complicated. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, either. The different sized swoops and swirls is what I think makes this bread feel so inviting and homey. It’s perfectly imperfect in all the best ways!
Recipe adapted from my Pecan Sticky Buns
How’s your salad game these days?
I’m going to brag here for a second: mine has been pretty epically awesome.
This is partly because I just love getting my creative juices flowing when it comes to assembling salads. But also, it was of the utmost importance that my salads be on point the last few days. Because holy shit, did I overdo it on Thanksgiving (and in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, if I’m being completely honest with myself). By the time the Holiday was over, the combination of excess eating, drinking and stress had me run down in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
So it’s been salads, water, rest and exercise. On repeat. Until I have to ramp things up again for Christmas madness.
The idea for this Autumn Harvest Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Bread came to me in the shower (I always get the best ideas in the shower!) about two weeks ago. I was struggling to come up with a new Fall/Winter salad combination. And then BOOM! The idea hit me like a ton of bricks: make a panzanella salad with pumpkin quick bread instead of regular bread.
At first I didn’t know if that would be totally weird. Would pumpkin quick bread be too sweet? Or not hold up as well against the dressing? But it totally works. And I just love the combination of flavors and textures that this salad provides. It’s anything but boring. And I really digging the seasonally appropriate nature of this recipe, too. Panzanella salads aren’t just for Summer anymore, friends!
I used leftover pumpkin quick bread that I had from the grocery store (yes, I didn’t even bother making my own). But you can bake up a loaf of your favorite recipe. Or buy a loaf from your local bakery. It’s all good. Since quick breads are generally moister than regular breads, just toast the pumpkin bread cubes in your oven (sans olive oil) for a few minutes until they dry out a bit. This will help the bread from getting overly soggy in your salad.
As with most salads, you can totally do your own thing if you want to switch up some of the ingredients. Carrots instead of parsnips totally works. Broccoli instead of brussels sprouts is spot on. And maybe try pears instead of apples. Go wild and have fun with it!