My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Christmas Braid

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
~Norman Vincent Peale
This is a double recipe, shaped slightly differently than Nana's recipe indicates

A few posts back I started poking around in my Great Grandmother Hook's recipe box.
This recipe card caught my eye.
Great Grandmother Hook is the little girl on the right, circa 1894

As far back as I can remember, we used to go to my grandmother's house at 11 a.m. on a Christmas morn.
Me and Nana, Christmas '83, her last one
This Christmas braid, made by Nana Hook, was always there.  It was always braided into a ring and decorated with red and green cherries and pecan halves.  We would start the festivities with a slice and a teacup of eggnog.  I was shocked and sort of pleased to see that it actually starts with frozen bread dough.  That was rather progressive for back then, but Nana would have been in her eighties and early nineties, so I bet that convenience made all the difference.  You never would have guessed.  You need to let the frozen dough thaw either overnight or for 4 hours in a warm spot in your house.  I wouldn't call it quick, but I sure would call it easy!  
Viola (Nana) Hook 1927
The recipe called for a 1 pound piece of frozen bread dough to be thawed thoroughly, rolled out 12 inches square, cut into 3 strips, spread with filling, dough sealed over filling, then braided.  I doubled the recipe and found it MUCH easier to roll the dough into a 13x9 in rectangle, spread with filling, make one big roll, seal in a ring and then cut with scissors, as shown here.  I'll give you the recipe as she wrote it.  It makes a small braid, which you can also shape into a ring.  It's a pretty easy recipe for a Christmas tradition that will leave an impression.  It sure did for me!

Quick Christmas Braid (or Wreath)
Viola Hook 1892-1984

One 1-pound loaf of frozen bread dough
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
4 or 5 tablespoons milk
red sugar
pecan halves and maraschino cherry halves for decoration

Thaw dough thoroughly [in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, either overnight or for 4 hours].  Roll

 12 inches square.  Cut into 3 equal strips.  Spread butter down center of each strip.  Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans.  Sprinkle this mixture over butter down center of each strip.  Bring dough around filling and seal edges to form 3 ropes.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and loosely braid.  [Either leave as a strip, or shape into a ring; your choice]  Let rise until double in bulk, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.  Cover loosely with foil during last few minutes to prevent over-browning, if necessary.  Cool completely.

Combine confectioner's sugar and milk, adding milk a little at a time until icing is the right consistency to drizzle.  Drizzle icing over cooled braid.  Decorate with pecan and cherry halves and sprinkle with red sugar.  Enjoy!


~~louise~~ said...

What a striking woman your Nana was, Margaret.

This is my kind of "Magic" I must say, I'm quite challenged when it comes to all things yeast:) I'm so sorry I haven't been in to visit but this eye of mine has still been acting up. Should be good by January they tell me.

I did want to drop by to wish you a Merry Christmas. Treasured memories are indeed a crucial part of the season. Enjoy! Louise

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks Louise! Sorry to hear that your eye is still giving you trouble...January is right around the corner, so hang in there just a little while longer.

I really appreciate you stopping by during this busy time! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! xo

Tina said...

This is a treasure of a recipe from your Grandmother! Your braid looks so amazing-picture perfect. She would be so proud that you have kept the tradition alive by baking this every year.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks so much, Tina! I think you're right...Nana would be pleased! My daughter was intrigued by her file box of recipes, so I think she'll keep it going as well. Enjoy the weekend festivities!

Cucina49 said...

What a gorgeous bread and a lovely tribute to your grandmother. Happy holidays!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Cucina: Thank you! Hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend as well!

Kristen said...

It is so much fun to have photos and recipes from your great grandmother! She was a beautiful woman. And what a wonderful braid. I love that it is a "semi-homemade" for those oh so busy days during the holidays. Hope you had a lovely Christmas and wishing you all the best in 2012!!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks Kris,
It is fun, and the older I get the more I appreciate them!
Hope you and your family had a blessed time together over the weekend and that everyone is feeling better! xo

Mary said...

What a lovely braid to serve for a holiday breakfast. These old recipes are true treasures and the pictures of your Nana are wonderful. I see a family resemblance. You are both beautiful women. I hope your holiday was all you wished it to be. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary said...

I think I'll make your Nana's bread over the weekend. I love breads like that! It looks wonderful. I absolutely LOVE your family photographs....they are lovely!! Have a safe and happy New Year! Deborah (from Delicious Happens)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Mary: Thank you, we had a wonderful time and I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. Can't wait to see what you cook up in 2012!

@Deborah: Oh great...I'm glad you're going to give it a whirl! Happy New Year to you as well!

Kimby said...

Margaret, your Grandma was a dish! Family heritage, traditions, and memories are a part of you (and your food) and it shows -- the most important ingredient being LOVE. Happy New Year!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Kimby: Haha! Thanks, and happy new year to you, too!

Lizzy Do said...

Your grandmother was such a beautiful and inspirational woman! Love this Christmas braid...yum!

Kathy said...

I just found your blog via chef Dennis. Enjoyed browsing through your last few post and am looking forward to coming back. I am adding you to my google reader.
Love your tribute to you great grandmother...she is looking down with a big smile for you! Your bread looks gorgeous! Happy New Year!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Lizzy: Thanks! I have been blessed in my life to have lots of good cooks in the family!

@Kathy: So glad you found me! I checked out your blog too (beautiful!)

Happy New Year to all!