Back in November I was lucky enough to be selected as one of six Canadian food bloggers to be featured in Eat in Eat Out's premiere issue. My gingerbread crepes with eggnog whipped cream appeared on pages 48-9 of the digital magazine (and if you haven't made them yet, I don't know what you're waiting for!), but we each actually created two original recipes for Eat In Eat Out. My second recipe, which will be featured on their homepage next week, was this amazing holiday cranberry brie wreath.
When I first tried thinking of holiday flavours to incorporate into my two recipes, my thoughts went to gingerbread, eggnog, and cranberry. Since the first two were already covered in the crepe recipe, I decided to make something a little more on the savoury side using the cranberries. Cranberries pair so well with brie cheese, and I don't know anyone who can resist melted brie, so I decided to wrap them together with some crunchy pecans in a sweet dough formed into a festive wreath shape.
I knew I would devour the whole thing myself if I stayed in the house with it, and since I wanted to share it with others while it was still warm, I cut a bunch of slices and rushed it over to my Grandma's where some of my family members were already gathered. They all finished their plates pretty quickly and agreed I had a winning recipe.
The only problem was trying to figure out how to classify this recipe. I originally intended it to be an appetizer, which would work well because it feeds a big crowd if you cut really thin slices, and you only need thin slices as it's pretty filling. However, because it's a little sweeter than most appetizers, I think it would also work as a brunch offering, or even a dessert. I guess my problem with figuring out how to categorize it isn't really a bad thing, since it gives you a lot more options for serving it! However you think it should be classified, I hope you give this a try, just make sure you have lots of people to share it with!
Holiday Cranberry Brie Wreath
Serves about 20
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (12-oz) bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
200g double-cream brie cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Optional egg wash: 1 egg + 2 tablespoons water
Dissolve the package of yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, with 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir and let sit 5-10 minutes, until yeast starts to foam. If it doesn’t, the yeast may no longer be active, and try again with a fresher pack.
Add 1/2 cup sugar, the warm milk, butter, salt, and 2 cups flour to the bowl. Beat until smooth (either with an electric mixer or a whisk). Add in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 6-8 minutes, adding more flour as necessary if the dough is too sticky, until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a large greased bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare cranberry sauce by bringing 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add bag of fresh cranberries and reduce heat. Let simmer about 10 minutes, until cranberries break down and sauce is thickened. Let cool.
Punch down dough and roll on a floured surface into a 16 inch by 12 inch rectangle. Spread cooled cranberry sauce over the surface of the dough. Make sure the sauce spreads all the way to the shorter edges of the dough, but leave a 1-inch border on the long edge of the dough furthest away from you (the edge you will be rolling the dough toward). Cover with slices of brie, as evenly as possible. Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans. Beginning with the long edge of the dough closest to you, roll the dough towards the opposite end, jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal.
Spray a round baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the rolled dough to the pan and form into a wreath, pinching the two ends of the log together as best as you can. Use scissors to cut into the wreath so that the filling is slightly exposed - cut about 1/2 to 1 inch into the dough, at about 2 inch intervals (you don't want the filling to fall out, just to show). Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F.
If desired, prepare an egg wash for the dough by whisking together one egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Before baking the dough, brush the surface evenly with the egg wash (make sure you cover every part of the dough evenly so there are no differences in colour).
Bake the wreath for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly, then slice and serve warm.