When I saw this Apricot Ginger Bread come out of the Test Kitchen, I was in awe. It looked like something you’d pay top dollar for in a high-end bakery. It was as visually stunning as it was delicious, but I moved on with my work day and forgot about it until a few months later. My husband and I were having a discussion about how much we spend on bread from the store when, in reality, we could make it at home. I thought back to this recipe, and decided I was going to give it a try since I had all the necessary ingredients on hand – yeast, flour, milk, eggs and butter. The filling is what really sets this bread apart from the rest – it’s sweet, tangy and the slight bite from the crystallized ginger makes it unique. Plus, the “braid” design makes for one show-stopping loaf. Let me show you how easy it really is.
First, combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave and add the milk. Microwave this mixture until it reaches 120-130°F (this is where an instant-read thermometer comes in handy). Add the milk and egg to the flour mixture and stir well. Add just enough flour to make the dough easy to handle. You don’t want to add too much flour or else the bread will be tough. The key is to add enough flour to make the bread easy to knead. Now turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, and turn it over so the greased side is up. Let this rise for about an hour or until it’s almost doubled in size. You’ll know it’s ready when you poke your finger into the dough and the indentation stays put when you pull your finger out.
Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the apricot preserves and ginger together in a bowl and set aside to use for the filling. When the dough has risen, punch it down. Good stress relief? I’d say so. Roll the dough out into a 20x18-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Spread the apricot and ginger mixture all over the dough to about 1/2 inch from the edges.
Roll the dough up beginning with the 20-inch side, like you would with cinnamon rolls. Make sure to seal the seam well so the filling doesn’t leak out while baking.
Now transfer the rolled dough to the baking sheet. Cut the roll in half lengthwise.
Turn the sides so the cut part is facing upwards and pinch one end together. Now, in a “braiding” fashion, begin twisting the two pieces of dough, making sure the cut side stays upward.
This is what you end up with. It already looks beautiful! Now, let the bread rise again for about 25 minutes or until it’s almost doubled again. (I told you it requires some patience. Maybe catch up on your favorite DVR’ed show during this time?) Now that it’s risen again, brush the twist with egg wash – this will give it a beautiful, golden color when baked.Bake for 40-45 minutes. An easy way to check to see that it’s done? Use your instant read thermometer! This really helps take the guesswork out of bread baking! When the center of the loaf reaches 190°F, you know it’s done. Cut into slices, and serve. And of course, bread is always better with butter.
Give this bread a try the next time you have a few hours to spare (and need to catch up on some TV!). Whether you serve it to family, friends or guests, everyone will be impressed with your bakery-quality bread.