Call it a Bird’s Nest or a Bird’s Wreath, it’s so good, you will eat it all and start making another one right away. The idea for this bread came to me one day when we were reading instructions for making bird food wreath in our Waldorf curriculum. It mentioned using a round 9-inch round cake pan turned upside down as a tool for making a wreath and my mind jumped immediately to the possibility of doing the same with bread dough. It worked wonderfully! And I can not tell you how much we enjoyed eating it. Look here, if you are interested in some other nest activities.
Ingredients (for 1 1/2 pound bread)
1/3 cup milk, regular or low-fat at 80-90F
3 large eggs (or 4 small ones), at room temperature
6 Tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces, at room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups + 1 Tablespoons bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast, active dry
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1-2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Throw all the ingredients in a bread machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. In my machine, wet ingredients go first and yeast goes last. Select dough cycle. When dough cycle is completed, remove dough, punch to deflate and transfer to a working area.
- Lightly grease the outside of a 9-inch round cake pan and turn the pan upside down on a lightly greased baking sheet. I also like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Separate the dough into three equal portions. If your kids are helping you, the portions are not going to be equal and it’s ok. Just remember that you are going to be braiding them, so adjust accordingly.
- Roll each portion of dough out into a long snake. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for five minutes to relax the gluten and try again.
- Make a long braid (just as if you were braiding hair: left over, right over, left over, right over…) and wrap this braid around the cake pan (on the baking sheet). Gently seal the two ends together by pinching.
- Cover with a plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let rise until almost doubled (about 30 minutes).
- Remove the wrap or towel and place it in a preheated oven (375F) and bake about 20 minutes. No, it’s not ready yet. At this point our brioche is usually a perfect golden shade, so I cover it with aluminum foil to prevent it from over-browning and bake it another 10 minutes.
- Let it cool (it will keep cooking).
Note: if you wish, you can glaze it. Mix confectioner’s sugar with milk and vanilla extract, pour it over the highest point and let it drip down like on the pic below. But don’t worry it’s not how it is going to look in a final product. The glaze spreads and hardens (even at room temperature unless you live in a jungle without an air conditioner).
Kids wanted to decorate our nest with a bird and eggs, but they didn’t want to wait! They ate the back half of our nest, while I was setting the scene up. Have another look at the pic at the top of this post. See? The back is gone! Waiting is the most difficult thing, isn’t it?