I don’t know a lot about Russian cuisine or food traditions but I do know that they, along with many Eastern European countries, make some of the most beautiful looking breads in the world. Many of them are pure works of art, especially the round decorated yeasted sweetbreads called “Korovai/ Karavai” usually baked for weddings (sometimes for birthdays, house warming ceremonies and funerals as well)
As I’ve said so many times before, if there’s one thing I love baking it is unusually shaped or decorated breads then I find them hard to resist. So when Lien picked the Russian Chrysanthemum Bread for us Bread BakingBabes to make this November I knew I had to do it. Though the title of this bread says it’s Russian, it’s actually Georgian in origin (which was originally a part of Russia/ USSR).
With family visiting us and then our taking a longish mid-month break, I didn’t get around to baking it before the deadline on the 16th. I had promised myself and the other Babes that I would make it so when our daughter came home on an unexpected break from college early this week I knew it was the perfect time for it. She loves home-made bread and was quite excited by this one. Her only demand was that it be savoury and not sweet!
The Russian Chrysanthemum Bread is more about shaping technique than the recipe, with the “petals” of the bread containing some sort of filling. Traditionally, the filling involves some sort of minced meat but one could use any sort of filling depending on preference. They could be made with cinnamon roll filling, Nutella, or a poppy seed filling popular in sweet breads in Eastern Europe.
Otherwise think of going savoury as I did with a garlicky cheese and herb filling with spring onions. Other savoury fillings like pesto or even pizza style filling work just as well. You can also use various herbs or spice mixes as filling.
The dough for this bread is a very slightly enriched dough and not all that difficult to shape either. However, it makes for a pretty looking bread that will brighten up any table its set on. Think of it as a rather fancy pull-apart bread, that’s all.
The recipe given below makes a largish loaf of bread and requires an 11” (28cm) shallow pie dish. What I have is a 9” (23cm) pie dish, so I made 2/3rds the recipe to fit the bread into my smaller pie dish. It is important to use just that much cheese spread as necessary in the filling.
Too little and there isn’t enough of it in each bite and too much means you’re going to have it bubbling out when the bread bakes making a mess of what should be a beautiful loaf. As you can see from the photographs, my loaf was a bit of a visual casualty!
Needless to say, the daughter absolutely loved it. So much so that she told me that I was an awesome bread maker and that’s high praise indeed! (Adapted from this site for the November BBB bake).
Russian/ Georgian Chrysanthemum Bread
For the Dough:
- 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsps instant yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 1/2 cup thick yogurt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup garlic cheese spread spread
- 1 1/2 tsps red chilli flakes flakes
- 1 1/2 tsps Herbs de Provence (or other herbs of choice)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onion greens
- Milk for brushing over dough
- To make the filling, mix together the cheese spread, red chilli flakes and herbs together into a smooth paste.
- To make the dough, put 3 cups of flour and all the other ingredients for the dough into the processor bowl. Knead together unitl you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Add more flour as necessary to achieve the desired consistency of dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, rolling it to coat it with the oil. Cover a loosely and let it rise for about an hour and a half until it is double in volume.
- When it has risen, gently deflate the dough. Grease well a 11" (28cm) shallow pie dish and keep aside. Divide the dough into two or three portions and work with one portion while keeping the others covered.
- Lightly flour your working surface and roll out the portion of dough evenly to 3mm thickness. This is important for well-shaped bread. Using a 3 1/2" or 7.5cm round cookie cutter cut out as many circles as you can. Shape the scraps into a ball, re-roll and cut out more circles. You will need about 30 dough circles in all.
- Using a spoon, spread a little of the cheese mixture on each round leaving the edges free and top this with a little of the chopped spring onions. Fold each circle over itself in half to make a semi-circle. Now pinch together both edges of the semi-circle sealing it well with a little water if necessary, to make a "petal".
- Place them in the prepared pie dish in a circle along the edges in one layer with the "point" of the "petal" facing the centre of the dish. Then make another circle of "petals" sitting close to the first one and so on, making concentric circles of "petals" working from the edge to the centre.
- Ideally chrysanthemums don't have a defined centre with petals all the way into the middle but I chose to use artistic license! To make the middle of the "flower", roll out a piece of the leftover dough into a longish rectangle (about 7” or 8” by 2 1/2"). Place the filling along one half of the length of the rectangle. Then fold the dough lengthwise over the filling. Do not seal the edge. Roll it tightly like a cinnamon roll and seal the edge smoothly. Place this in the centre.
- If you prefer to have a bread that doesn't have a round centre, just make three slightly smaller circles, fill and fold as the others and place them in the middle. Cover loosely and let the bread rise and leave it to rise for about 45 minutes when it will look a little "puffy".
- Brush the loaf with milk (or egg wash if you use it) and bake it at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes until it is done and golden brown in colour. Brush with some melted butter id you like, otherwise let it cool on a wire rack.
- Serve cool or lukewarm. This recipe makes one large loaf of Chrysanthemum Bread.
The Bread Baking Babes are –
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy and here’s how it works.
Lien is our hostess for this month and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Russian Chrysanthemum Bread according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Do make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.
Then e-mail Lien with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and also send you a BBB badge for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog.