Intertwined….

I’ve been lucky enough in my life that loss has been at a minimal. I have no remaining grandparents(though at my age that is to be expected) and I have lost only 2 friends, and now 3. Last week an email appeared from a friend of mine in Phoenix. I was all happy until I opened it up to see that a very funny and wonderful person had passed. He was a referee and hockey buddy of mine. Part of a group of rouge referees that liked to sit around and drink beer, eat fried food and tell lies after each night of reffing. He was part of the pack that went each year to Vegas to participate in the Zebra Cup, a hockey tournament for just referees(Lord help you the years the NHL refs showed up…you basically were playing for second place). I would trek along on these trips…me and 13 guys. I will avoid reminiscing as it will no doubt get many a person in trouble. :P
My grieving process is fairly simple.1. I cry, a lot for about 2 days. 2. I eat a lot of bad things for me and usually have a little retail therapy. 3.Then I bake bread. When someone passes I will usually make a braided bread to represent how they intertwined in my life. Silly I know, but it has sentimental value to me. During phase number two, part of my retail therapy was(try not to be surprised) a cookbook. One specifically dedicated to coffee cakes, sticky buns, muffins and more. I saw that their was a braided bread and so I grabbed it up.
The dough is really easy to work with…until of course you have to braid it. That is not the doughs fault but the cheese and jam…they don’t like to be braided and try to escape the whole time you are trying to braid the bread. Bastards. The original recipe called for pineapple pieces but that didn’t appeal to me at the time.
So here, here is my bread, my offering to my friend R for all the great ways he intertwined in my life. Thanks for the time we did have.

Apricot-Pineapple Cheese Braid

1 package(7.5-ounce) farmers cheese, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces(if you can’t find it, use same amount cream cheese)
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 recipe(about 2 pounds) Rich Sour Cream Dough(recipe to follow)
½ cup apricot-pineapple preserves
1 large egg white beaten with 2 tsp water, for egg wash
Clear Shiny Glaze(recipe follows)

1.Generously butter two large cookie sheets.
2.Place food mill or a potato ricer over a medium bowl. Sieve the farmer cheese through the mill, the sieve the cream cheese. Using a wooden spoon, blend in the sugar, mixing until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt, then blend in the yolks, zest and vanilla. Chill for several hours or overnight.
3.Divide the dough into equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a log. Roll the dough into a 10-x-15-inch rectangle with the 15-inch side parallel to the edge of the counter.
4.Spread half of the cheese filling centered in a 4-inch wide strip, spreading it from right to left across the 15-inch side of the dough. Using the back of a teaspoon, make a well down the center or the cheese strip and fill it with half of the preserves.
5.Brush the far edge of the dough with some of the egg wash. Roll the dough up jelly roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, then roll the log back and forth two or three times. Carefully life the roll into a prepared cookie sheet., placing it seam side down, angling it as necessary. Using a rolling pin or the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the log until it measures about 3 ½ x 15 inches.
6.Using a dough scraper or a thin-bladed sharp knife, score the dough lengthwise into three equal stripes, then cut through the log. Starting at the center, braid the strips as best you can. Don’t worry if it is a little messy(BOY will it be). Then braid to the opposite end. Pinch the ends together well and tuck under. Repeat, shaping the second piece of dough.
7.Cover each braid with a tea towel and set in a warmish place to rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until puffy and almost double.
8.Fifteen minutes before baking, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brow,. To ensure even browning, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back.
9.About 15 minutes before braids are done, prepare the glaze.
10.Remove the braids from the oven and immediately brush surfaces with the hot glaze. After 10 minutes, loosen with large metal spatula. When firm enough to handle, transfer to cooling rack.

Rich Sour Cream Dough

4 TBSP sugar
¼ cup warm water(110 to 115F)
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

1.Rinse a small bowl in hot water to warm it. Add 1 TBSP of the sugar and the warm water to the bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a saucer and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir it briefly with a fork, cover again, and let it stand for 2-3 minutes, or until bubbly.
2.In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix on low speed the 3 cups of flour, remaining 3 TBSP of sugar, and the salt. Add the slightly firm butter and continue to mix until meal-size crumbs form, 2-4 minutes, depending upon the temperature of the butter. Stop the mixer.
3.Using a fork, in a large bowl, mix the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour, along with the dissolved yeast, and mix on low speed until a rough dough is formed. This is a soft dough.
4.Lightly butter a medium bowl for storing the dough. Turn the dough into the prepared bowl, smoothing the top with lightly floured hands. Brush the top lightly with 1 tsp soft butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Clear Shiny Glaze

3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP water
1 ½ tsp corn syrup

Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Keep warm.

Source: Adapted from Great Coffeecakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More… by Carole Walter

Comments

  1. So sorry about your friend. The bread looks delicious!

  2. I’m sorry about your friend.
    Wonderful pictures of your bread!

  3. Peabody, so sorry for the loss of your friend. What great therapy you have…baking braids…I love the way that makes so much sense, people have been intertwined in our lives. I hope your cookbook has other fun things to offer and I also hope your heart heals.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss, Gracie. :( I’m am glad though that you have so many good memories. Friends are a gift. It sounds like you cherish your gifts. =)

    The braid is gorgeous and it sounds yummy.

    And I don’t think your idea of a braided bread is at all silly – as a matter of fact, I love that idea – it makes perfect sense. =)

    Hugs sweetie
    xoxo

  5. Peabody, you have my deepest sympathy – it is undoubtedly devastating to lose someone in your life. Your Apricot-Pineapple-Cheese-Braid bread is a wonderful offering in memory of your friend R. May your memories of R live on in your heart and mind forever.

  6. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to a lost friend! My sympathies on your loss.

  7. I’m sorry about the loss of your friend. Your bread looks beautiful. It’s very similar to the bread my mother always makes on Christmas morning. I love your idea of the braided bread…it’s a lovely sentiment!

  8. I love the idea of baking something braided to remember how someone has intertwined with your life. I think that will become a new tradition in my house.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I don’t think making a braided bread is silly at all. It’s really sentimental and a great way to remember the connectedness with the one you lost. And of course, it looks great too :)

  10. I think that’s a wonderful way to remember your friend!

  11. Aw Peabody. I am so sorry. I hope you are now at a stage where your fond remembrance of your friend outweighs the shock and grieving for the loss. I think the braided bread is a beautiful tribute. Peace and hugs.

  12. I’m sorry for your loss, but I think the symbolism of the braided bread is terrific.

  13. So sorry to hear about your friend. I haven’t lost any friends close to me, though there was a girl two years younger than me who dated my best guy friend who died. At that point I was a senior in college, so it hit hard thinking that someone around my age had died.
    ANYWAY, I just LOVE how you have a specific type thing you bake. Having things to hang on to and be routine during change and loss is good. I also have no remaining grandparents but feel extremely blessed to have my parents and brother with me. In fact, I may tag this and try it when I go home for Christmas…it looks WONDERFUL and I havent done a braided bread in ages.

  14. i’m so sorry for your loss :( your post made me all teary-eyed because it was so sweet. your braided bread is beautiful and a great tribute to your friend…

  15. Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful way to remember signicant others!

  16. Silly? Absolutely not. What a personal and beautiful way to pay tribute to your friend. I wish you comfort and peace.

  17. That seems a beautiful way to remember a good friend and the ways your lives intertwined . . . nothing silly there at all.
    Sorry for the loss . . .

  18. Very nice work – I’m impressed with your braiding skills!

  19. This lovely….I still have yet to bake any delicious bread like yours! so marvellous.

  20. Dear Peabody – What a wonderful way to commemorate a true friend and buddy. Went to a funeral today for an old friend of mine claimed by cancer at age 50…too soon. Think I’ll bake bread tomorrow…this loaf would be perfect. Sorry for your loss…glad you have good memories.

  21. So sorry to hear about your buddy Peabody. And what a wonderful way to remember someone who has meant something in your life. Braided bread – so simple yet so significant. I think it is a great tradition. You are so fortunate not to have had to do it TOO many times before. Hugs xx

  22. Sorry to hear about your friend. I think it’s a really great idea to bake bread and I like the idea of a braided bread to show how they intertwined with your life.

  23. What a wonderful way to honour a friend. I’m sorry about your loss.

  24. Beautiful, and a lovely tribute to a friend. Food has long been used to celebrate the passing over into another life, and there’s nothing silly about it. Grief is personal and so is how we deal with it. Your way is creative and life affirming

  25. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Peabody! Keep baking that bread … it’ll make you feel better. I’m sending you a big hug!

  26. You have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your friend.

    This is such a beautiful way to remember him. The bread you made is wonderful.

  27. I am sorry to hear about your loss. This post is a lovely tribute.

  28. So sorry to hear about your loss. I love the idea of braided loaf to represent the inner-workings of life. The bread sounds gorgeous, and I wish I had more time to make all the great recipes of this book!
    *hugs*

  29. I’m sorry for your loss. What a lovely way to remember and pay your friend a tribute – the braid looks great.

  30. Oh, Peabody, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. What a lovely tribute to him and the impact he had on your life.

  31. So sorry for the loss of your friend. This indeed is a great way to remember how he was intertwined in your life. Hugs!

  32. I am really sorry to hear of your loss. I think it is a lovely and beautiful gesture to celebrate life through bread though!

  33. Peabody, I’m very sorry for your loss! The idea of celebrating your friend’s life through bread was lovely. The braid looks delicious. Have you thought of substituting the cream cheese for brie?

  34. I am so sorry for your loss, but love what you have done to incorporate his life with your baking.

  35. I’m so sorry for your loss, my dear friend.

    And I cope with death exactly like you. Good to know I’m in such great company in that matter.

  36. Beautiful bread for a wonderful friend whose life wove into yours. Fitting.

  37. Sorry for your loss. Baking a braided bread is a beautiful way to remember how they were a part of your life.

  38. Beautiful post. What a lovely symbolic way to remember someone.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] For we were making braided breads. I have a thing(not really a rule but a thing) in which I only bake braided bread when I lose someone to death. Having not lost anyone to death in awhile I did not want to “jinx” it so to speak(I am [...]

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