I come from a pretty large family– I have 4 siblings and we each have children/families of our own. In addition to that, we have several lifelong family friends that are honorary siblings, so as you can imagine, we tend to have a pretty full house during the holidays with plenty of mouths to feed. In order to make it easy on everyone, we typically have potluck-style meals where each family is in charge of bringing something– this year for Thanksgiving dinner, I volunteered to make bread and a few sides.
I baked several loaves, rings, and even an edible bread cornucopia:
Cornucopia fresh out of the oven!
Braided Bread Rings
Braided Loaves*Missing from above are about 6 additional loaves that I failed to get pictures of.
The bread was a hit– it was delicious, it looked amazing, and it was festive! Best of all, I baked all of this bread using a simple recipe (only 7 ingredients!) and without the use of a bread machine!
I made 4 separate batches of dough– 1 batch to make the cornucopia, 1 batch to make several rings, and 2 batches to make 10 loaves of varying sizes.
What you’ll need:
- Hand Mixer
- Large Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Damp kitchen towel
- Baking/Cooking Sheets
- Parchment Paper (Recommended) or Baking Spray
- Brush (for egg wash)
Most importantly, you’ll need ingredients! Note that the recipe below is for one batch of dough:
- 1 1/3 cups of water (warm)
- 1 packet of dry yeast
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 3 eggs (1 of these eggs will be used for the egg wash)
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 cups of flour (have additional flour on hand for dusting when kneading)
- In the large bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes. *I typically use this time to prepare the other ingredients into ready-to-add portions.*
- Add the honey, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and salt to the water/yeast mixture, and mix well on the lowest mixer setting.
- Begin mixing in 1 cup of flour at a time with your hand mixer. By the third cup, the dough will begin to form and may begin to “climb” up the beaters; if this happens, mix in the rest of the flour into the mixture using a spatula or your hands.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface. Knead and gradually dust with flour as you go until the dough loses most of its stickiness.
- Roll the dough into a large ball. Set the dough aside on the counter and cover with the damp towel. Leave it to rest/rise for about an hour. *You can place the dough into a greased bowl to rest if preferred; I prefer the counter-top because it leaves one less dish for me to wash :-)*
- After resting, shape the dough and cover/let it rest for another 30 – 60 minutes. *If you don’t mind a slightly denser dough and/or are pressed for time, feel free to move onto the next step.*
- Place the dough onto a cookie/baking sheet lined with parchment paper. *If no parchment paper is available, greasing the sheet will work just as well.*
- In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1 tbs of water using a fork to create the egg wash. Brush generously on the shaped dough.
- Place your bread into the preheated oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.
You will know that your bread is done when it has a rich golden-brown color, and sounds hollow to the touch. Place the bread on a cooling rack, let cool for about 20 minutes, and enjoy!
My bread tray!
My mom was so impressed that she insisted I take a picture of her and the main tray. I just love her!
The total cost of ingredients for the 4 batches I made was about $15 dollars. About half of that amount was for the honey alone, but I was still left with a surplus of flour for future batches; hence, the cost could be trimmed down even more depending on the type of honey used, or forgoing the honey altogether and using sugar as a substitute.
This is one of my favorite bread recipes– it is such an easy bread to make and it is very versatile. It is light and chewy, but sturdy enough to make a fairly large and stable cornucopia. I can’t wait to make this bread again for our Christmas dinner this year.
I’d love to hear from you– let me know how this recipe works out for you, and any variations you tried!