- 4 1/2 – 5 cups bread flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 Tbl sugar
- 3/4 cup warm water (~110-120F)
- 1 1/4 cup scaled milk
- 1 packet of Red Star Platinum Instant Yeast (1/4 oz packet)
- 5 Tbl unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 XL eggs, room temperature, beaten
Cheesy Bacon Chicken Filling
- 16 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened
- 10 slices crispy bacon, chopped
- 4 cups shredded cheddar
- 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup powdered ranch seasoning
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add in the water, scalded milk, sugar, and yeast. Use a whisk or spoon to just mix together. Add in the eggs and turn the mixer on to low to just start to incorporate the eggs. It’s okay if it doesn’t combine together.
- Turn the mixer off and add in 3 cups of flour to the liquid and turn on low to mix. Mix until barely combined; you just want it to start to incorporate. Slowly add more flour and mix until it just barely starts to form a soft dough and starts to pull away from the sides (~5 minutes or so). Depending on your environment you can use as little as 4 1/2 cups and up to 5 cups of flour. When it starts to pull away, add in your salt. Mix for 1 minute and then add in 1 Tbl of butter at a time. Allow the butter to start to meld into the dough before adding another Tbl (this should take maybe 2-3 minutes). It may look like it’s not coming back together but it will.
- Once there’s barely any butter visible, turn the mixer up to medium and mix until you have a dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl cleanly as it’s mixing and is smooth and shiny. ~8-9 minutes. A quick test is do a “Window Pane” test to make sure the dough is ready. You’ll grab a small piece of dough and begin to stretch it out thin. You should be able to see through it similar to how you would look through a pane of glass. The dough should not have any tears when you stretch it.
- Put the dough in a large, buttered or sprayed bowl, cover, set in a cool dry place and allow to rise until doubled in size. ~60-90 minutes. When ready to use, remove the cover and punch the dough down.
Make the Cheesy Bacon Chicken Filling
- To a bowl add the cream cheese and sour cream. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix until smooth and creamy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides and bottom. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.
Shape the braided wreath
- Preheat the oven to 400F, rack in the middle.
- Remove the chicken filling from the fridge 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to make the braid. It’s easier to spread when it’s softened. Place the dough out a lightly floured board and divide into 2 balls. This recipe makes 2 braided wreaths. You can wrap the dough up and set in the fridge to make after the one loaf cools or freeze it for up to 2 months. Roll out one loaf into a 12×8” rectangle.
- To the dough add half of the cheesy bacon chicken filling. Roll up the dough so it’s snug and pinch the seams together. For the ends, just tuck under and pinch them to seal against the bottom.
- Split the dough in half length-wise and flip the cut sides facing upwards. Gently overlap the pieces to form a braid. Pinch the two bottom pieces together. Place the braid gently on parchment paper. Grab one end and gently move it to make a circle. Pinch both ends together to form a circle. Place the bread and parchment paper on the bottom of the Bread Cloche and cover it with the lid. Set the Bread Cloche off to the side to proof for 30 minutes while the oven heats up.
- When ready to bake (do not remove the lid), place the Bread Cloche into the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes then remove the lid and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until the internal bread temp reads 200F.
- Remove the Bread Cloche from the oven and the braided bread wreath and the parchment paper is moved onto a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.