I thought long and hard about my Christmas Day breakfast recipe and I know you are going to love this Candied Peel, Apricot and Marzipan Snowflake Bread.
It was a difficult choice because the recipe had to be special enough for Christmas day but easy enough to get on the table while opening stockings, unwrapping pressies and drinking champagne, possibly all in one go!
Although this recipe looks a lot more involved than my usual recipes, I promise you that it is incredibly simple to make and really doesn’t take long to put together. I’ve also included lots of photos to help you with each step.
How to make it
To start with put everything from the yeast to the apricots into the bread maker. You will need to warm the milk slightly as the yeast needs warmth to be activated. Make sure it’s luke warm, so it feels just slightly warm when you stick a finger in it. Also, make sure that your measuring jug is accurate or you will end up with an overly dry or sticky dough.
Now set the bread maker off on the dough setting and let it do the hard work. For some reason my dough setting is called ‘Pizza’ but it’s just a basic, 45-minute dough setting. It certainly doesn’t churn out gorgeously crusty margheritas!
While the bread maker is getting to work, dice the marzipan and pop it in the freezer. This stops it getting squashed when you add it to the dough, ensuring that the dough is studded with proper chunks of marzipan.
When the bread maker has finished, turn out your dough onto a floured surface. I find my dough scraper invaluable here. It makes scraping the dough out of the bread maker really easy and is also really useful for dividing dough when making rolls. Now, pat the dough out into a 20cm (8 inch) round and sprinkle over the frozen marzipan.
The next stage may sound complicated, but I promise you it’s incredibly easy and once you’ve mastered the technique you will never have misshapen rolls/dough balls/round loaves again.
You need to pull the outside edge of the dough into the centre, working all the way round the loaf. I turn the loaf as I go to make this easier. As you pull the edges in, the dough will stretch, covering the marzipan.
When you have finished your loaf should be pretty much a perfect circle. Don’t worry, it won’t look pretty but that’s OK as it’s not finished yet. If the loaf is not quite round then pull the bulge into the centre again to even things up.
Now pinch the ends of dough, which will all be in the centre of the loaf, together firmly.
Now flip the whole loaf over so that what was on the top is now under the loaf. You will have a perfectly round loaf that you’ll be proud of!
Make sure there is plenty of flour below your loaf then pat it out to make a 22cm round. Now dust your dough scraper or a knife in flour and use it to cut the dough into six evenly sized pieces leaving them joined in the centre.
Make a cut in the centre of each piece and wriggle the knife around so you can see the work surface through the hole. Make sure that each cut is well floured so that the dough does not stick back together. Now, shape the ends of each piece slightly to give a wavy edge.
Make sure that none of the dough is stuck to your work surface then, quickly and carefully, transfer the loaf to a baking sheet or pizza stone that has been dusted with flour or, even better, corn meal or raw semolina. Check that your cuts have survived the move – I re-cut the holes in each ‘petal’.
Cover the loaf with lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove in the fridge (or shed if the fridge is full) over night. (If cooking the same day then leave to prove in a warm room until the dough springs back slowly when you press it – roughly 1 hour.) Well done, that’s the hard work finished!
In the morning, take the bread out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven heats up then pop the loaf into the hot oven, and that’s it. 25 minutes later your house will smell gorgeous, breakfast will be ready, and you’ll have had time to spend with the children, or even opening your own stocking if you’re lucky!
I love the flavours going on here but if you feel like switching things up a bit then why not make a chocolate version? Leave out the candied peel and apricots and spread the dough with 3-4 tablespoons of Nutella instead of sprinkling with marzipan. Or you could make a ‘cinnamon roll’ version by leaving out the fruit and marzipan and spreading the dough with a generous amount of paste made from blending sugar, cinnamon and butter together. Basically, if you like the sound of it then give it a go!
This is my last post before Christmas as, by this time next week I expect everyone will be too busy (or too well planned, in our dreams!) to be thinking about new recipes. I hope you have a fantastic, fun filled Christmas. I’ll be back between Christmas and New Year with my Ham and Split Pea Soup recipe which is a great way to use the gorgeous stock created when you boil a ham, and don’t forget about my Leftover Turkey Soup recipe which is a great way to use up any Christmas bird leftovers.
Candied Peel, Apricot and Marzipan Snowflake Bread
- 2¼ teaspoons (7g) fast action yeast
- 500 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour
- 45 g (3 tablespoons) sugar
- 30 g (1 generous tablespoon) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- Around 300ml milk
- 50 g (3 rounded tablespoons) candied peel
- 70 g (4 rounded tablespoons) apricots, chopped the same size as the candied peel
- 115 g marzipan (1 cup when diced, see below)
- You will also need a bread maker
- Place the ingredients from the yeast to the vanilla extract into the bread maker in the order they are listed.
- Crack the egg into an accurate measuring jug.
- Pour the milk into a pan and heat gently until it is body temperature. (If you over heat it leave it to cool until it reaches the correct temperature.) Pour the milk into the same measuring jug as the egg is in until you have 350ml liquid in total. Discard the remaining milk. Add the egg and milk, candied peel and apricots to the bread maker.
- Start the bread maker on its dough setting.
- While the bread maker is doing the hard work for you, chop the marzipan into small chunks just less than 1cm (⅜ inch) cubed and place in the freezer to harden up.
- When the dough setting has finished, lightly dust your work surface with flour and scrape out the dough onto the flour. Press the dough out slightly so it is in a 20 cm (8 inch) round. Sprinkle over the marzipan cubes.
- To form the dough into a loaf, pull the outside edges of the dough into the centre of the circle (turning the dough as you go will help) so that the marzipan is encased in the dough. Your dough should now be the same shape as a bread roll although the top will be messy. Pinch the raw edges in the centre of the dough ball together so that they hold, then turn the loaf over. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough into six even pieces, leaving them joined in the centre. Make a cut in the centre of each piece then, using your fingers, shape the ends of each piece. (See above for a more in-depth explanation of this.)
- Sprinkle a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone with flour or cornmeal and transfer the loaf to it.
- Brush the bread lightly with oil, cover with cling film and leave to prove in the fridge over-night.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350 F).
- Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool for a little while before tucking in.