I have a lot of recipes that I've collected over the years with the greatest intentions of trying them out. I have these recipes in all forms....cookbooks, magazines, internet tagged, scraps of paper, notebooks, folders....etc etc etc.....etcccccetera.
I've hardly made a dent in my intentions.
So why on earth would I subscribe to yet another source of even more recipes?
Because my name is Danielle, and I'm a recipe-holic. Without shame. Without guilt. There's even a hint of pride in that statement. And a whole lot of joy. I imagine that's why most of us do what we do....it's why we're here......right?
So you'll totally understand why I did what I did. I subscribed to Taste of Home. For the first time ever. I recently received my very first issue.....the February & March 2011 issue. As I thumbed through it, I was captivated by this braided bread recipe....loaded...I mean seriously loaded with "fiesta" type ingredients...you know the kind, bell peppers, jalapenos, cheese....the list goes on. We're talking bread. We're talking mexican-ish.....we're talking.....directly to ME. The editor might as well have written this recipe and article specifically to me. It should've read...'Danielle, we know that you will enjoy this bread. Not only because of the fabulous flavors, the hint of heat.....the amazing aroma, but we know you will have enormous fun making it.'
And they would've been right.
Then and there I knew I had to bake this bread. Immediately, if not sooner.
I came home with my arms full of grocery bags, some of which included a few ingredients I didn't have on hand....canned corn, buttermilk and fresh bell peppers. Is I began to put the groceries away, Sir Sportsalot informed me that he had turned the water off. He had chosen that particular afternoon to repair the leaky faucet in the shower. The very same afternoon I had planned to bake Confetti Fiesta Bread.
Are you serious?! And you know when they say it's only gonna take an few minutes....it translates into a few hours.
Over 3 hours to be closer to exact. No water. (not even for the toilet) for over 3 hours. This had turned into an different kind of adventure.
Let's back up for a minute....I came home from the grocery store around 2:00. I wanted (and when I 'want'...it can be very difficult to detour me) this bread for dinner that night. It was getting on the late side and if was going to have the dinner I'd planned, I needed to get started on this bread. NOW. Which meant I needed to get creative.
I need to let the Laura Ingalls in me come out. Yes, I was that determined!
Thank God for bottled water. We keep lots of it on hand (L.A. water is not fit for drinking). I filled a big ole pot up with bottled water....rinsed the veggies and then used it to wash my hands as needed.
And so my little adventure began.....
Confetti Fiesta Braids
makes 2 loaves
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 1/2 tsps active dry yeast (2 pks or 1 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 - 8 1/4 oz can cream style corn
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I used orange and red)
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno peppers (I used 1 - 4 oz can of diced jalapenos)
1/4 cup butter, melted
Combine 4 cups of the all purpose flour, cornmeal, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of cubed butter and chopped onion to about 120' F (if it goes over 130' F, let it cool down before proceeding to the next step....you do not want to kill the yeast). Add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the eggs until well combined.
Add the cheese, corn and peppers, stirring until combined. Add enough of the remaining all purpose flour until you have a stiff dough.
Flour your surface and turn the dough onto it. Knead until smooth and elastic....which should take about 8 minutes.
Place your dough in a very large greased bowl. Turn the dough to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap or a dusted towel and let rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size
Punch the dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half, placing one half back into the bowl while you work on your first loaf.
Taking the half of dough that you're working on, cut off 1/3 of it and set that aside. With the larger 2/3 section, divide that into thirds and form the thirds into long ropes.....about 16" in length. Braid the ropes together.
When I braid bread, I start in the middle and braid to the end. I turn the dough around and over and braid the other side. (if you don't turn it over, the braid will not be uniform...the over and under pattern will be messed up.). Or....just make sure you braid backwards....instead of taking the right and left sides and placing them over each other, you will place them under each other. I hope that makes sense. If not, there are tons of demo videos out there.
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and pinch the ends together then tuck them under.
Now take the smaller 1/3 of dough, divide it into thirds and make smaller ropes of about 10" in length and braid them as you braided the larger ropes.
Take the smaller braided bread....turn it over (I found it was easiest to just cradle it in my hand and up my arm a bit)....brush the bottom with water and place it in the middle of the larger loaf.
Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled.
Now do it all again with the other half of the dough that you had set aside.....
About 30 minutes before the estimated time your bread will be ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350' F.
You can test your bread to see if it's ready to bake by poking it with 2 fingers. If it bounces back instantly....you'll want to let it rise a bit more. If it doesn't bounce back all that quickly....it's ready to go into the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.
If you time the final rise right, your second loaf will be ready to go into the oven just as your first loaf is coming out.
I love the texture that the cornmeal added to this bread. I love the little hint of heat that the jalapenos added. I love the aroma of all those peppers. This is an all around wonderful and fun loaf of bread to make and eat. You'll enjoy it by itself with a bit of butter smeared all over your slice. Or...you can have some fun with it like I did. Slice it, toast the slices in the oven and top the slices with your favorite fajita makings for a fun fiesta style bruschetta.