My mom makes this deeeelicious braided bread: the dough is a roll recipe, but it’s stuffed with chicken and cheese. I often requested it for my birthday growing up, and she even had one baked and ready when we came home from the hospital with our baby!
After watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show, I decided to take my mom’s bread braid recipe and give it a twist! (Hint: the twist is that it’s not braided)
Here’s the recipe – keep scrolling for more details and pictures!
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Mom’s Famous Bread Braid – With a Twist!
- Up to 2.5 cups flour, divided (I use white whole wheat)
- optional: 2 Tbs vital wheat gluten
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 Tbs butter, divided
- 1 cup chopped meat (chopped shredded chicken or lunch meat work great)
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and 2 Tbs butter to 120-130F.
- Gradually add the milk mixture to the dry mixture and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Switch to the dough hook, add 1/4 cup of flour, and mix at high speed for 2 minutes.
- If you are going to add vital wheat gluten, mix it in now. (Leave this part out if you’re using regular white flour. If you’re using whole wheat flour, adding gluten can help the bread to rise better, but it isn’t necessary for this recipe. It is still tasty without the added gluten – but it’s even better and fluffier with it!)
- Mix in enough additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to make a soft dough (I tend to only need an additional 1/2 to 3/4 cup). Knead for 2-3 minutes.
- Form the dough into two balls of equal size, and place them on a floured counter, or on two silicon baking mats (the original is called a silpat but there are non-namebrand ones that are cheaper)
- Roll each ball out into circles of roughly the same size, about 10 inches or so in diameter
- If using a silicon mat, transfer one of the mats (with the bread dough circle) onto a baking sheet
- If you rolled your dough out onto a floured counter, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then transfer your dough circle onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. The easiest way is to use the rolling pin and roll up the dough over it, and then lift and unroll onto the baking sheet.
- Melt the remaining 2 Tbs of butter, and brush 1 Tbs of it onto the dough circle that is on the baking sheet. Then, evenly spread the chopped meat (I used chopped up shredded chicken) onto the buttered dough, leaving a half inch border of bare dough around the edge.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the chicken.
- Lift up the 2nd dough circle (using the rolling pin trick) and lay it over the top of the 1st circle with the meat and cheese. Cut off any lopsided dough bits, and then gently press the edges together.
- Here’s where the fancy design starts! (The pictures below will be very helpful). Using an upside down drinking glass centered over the dough, press down to leave a circular impression. Set the glass aside.
- Using a dough cutter, bench scraper, or butter knife, mark out eight lines, starting from where the center circle is, and going to the edge of the dough, pressing just enough to leave an impression. There should be no lines inside the center circle.
- I like to make 2 lines directly across from each other, then 2 lines 90 degrees from those, the the last 4 lines are in between the original 4. That helps to keep things evenly spaced.
- Ones your lines are mapped out and you are happy with the spacing, use your dough cutter or knife to cut all the way through. Now you have a solid center and 8 pinwheel tabs (for lack of a better term).
- Grab 2 of the tabs that are next to each other (one in each hand) and twist them inward twice (so the tab in your left hand is twisting clockwise and the tab in your right hand is twisting counter clockwise. See the pictures below.) Repeat with all remaining tabs.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a towel, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Remove the towel and plastic wrap. Brush the dough with the remaining 1 Tbs of butter, and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Since the bread is so big, make sure that the center is golden brown too. The outside edge will probably be a little darker.
- Allow to cool slightly, then enjoy! You don’t even have to cut it – you can just pull off one of the pieces! The bread will be soft and fluffy, like a dinner roll. Refrigerated leftovers reheat excellently in a toaster oven.
And now, lots and lots of pictures!
Here’s what the dough looks like after kneading – it doesn’t look like very much, but it’ll go a long way!Then it’s split into 2 balls and moved to a floured surface or to two silicon mats (which is code for “I didn’t want to clean off my counter”)Roll into equal-ish sized circles, roughly 10 inches in diameter (the mat is about 11.5in wide so that helps me eyeball it)…And move one of the circles to a baking sheet (this is where rolling it out on a mat first makes things easier)…Then we start adding our filling! First brush with melted butter (This is may be my favorite picture)…Then sprinkle on the chicken, leaving a 1/2 inch or so border…Add the cheese…Then lay the remaining dough circle on top! (I don’t have a picture of the transfer since it takes 2 hands, but the easiest way is to roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, then lift and unroll it on top of the filling)If there are any lopsided edges, you can just trim them off.Nice and circular! Gently press the edges together.Now it’s time to make the fancy design! First we have to map it out. Using an upside down glass centered over the dough, press down to leave a circle impression.Then, use a dough cutter or butter knife to mark eight evenly spaced lines, from the circle to the edge of the dough. I like to mark the first 2 lines directly across from each other, and then so on, to ensure even spacing.Once you are happy with your line placement, cut all the way through the dough (I use the dough cutter or butter knife rather than a sharp knife so I don’t accidentally cut my silicone mat or dull a good knife)Now for the fun part! Grab 2 of the tabs that are next to each other (one in each hand) and twist them inward twice (so the tab in your left hand is twisting clockwise and the tab in your right hand is twisting counter clockwise.) Since I don’t have a third hand, I could only take pictures of me twisting one of the tabs:
So you pick it up…Twist it once…And twist it again!And that’s it! Then just twist the one next to it in the opposite direction (counterclockwise). (Does this technique have a name? If it does, I sure don’t know it!)
Once everything is all twisted, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes, while the oven preheats.
After it rises, brush the top with butter and sprinkle with kosher salt…Then bake until golden brown! Make sure the center is golden too (the edges will likely be darker).Mmmmmmmmhm.
Pull off a piece, and enjoy!
Eat it while it’s nice and hot, or refrigerate the leftovers and reheat in the toaster oven!
And thank goodness I still have some leftover, because I need to go have a piece after looking at all of these pictures.