November 15, 2009

Ham and Cheese Braid

Last night I made a family favorite for dinner. We call it Ham & Cheese Braid and you'll see why. As I was putting it together I told my daughter to grab the camera and take a few shots for you. I don't really have a recipe to type out. Just make your favorite bread dough (by hand, in the bread machine on the dough cycle, or in your mixer). I made mine using half whole wheat flour and half white flour in my Bosch mixer. I made four loaves worth of dough so I could make two braids plus some cinnamon swirl bread for breakfast.

This is my wheat grinder. It's a K-tec Kitchen Mill (actually they renamed it a couple years ago and it's now called the Blend Tec Kitchen Mill). I love mine and highly recommend it! I buy wheat in large bags from a little country store up by my mom's. I used to get it from a food co-op but, sadly, the company went out of business. I store my wheat in five gallon buckets that I got from the bakery. A fifty pound bag lasts me a long time since I don't make bread as often as I should (according to my husband anyway). If you have never tried 100% whole wheat bread from fresh ground wheat you are missing out!

Once the dough is made, roll it out into a large rectangle, I didn't measure but this is about the size of a cookie sheet. And put diced (or sliced) ham down the center. I like diced better so the whole slice doesn't slide out when you bite into it. Top the ham with a cheese of your choice. I used mild cheddar, but swiss would be good too!

Then slice the sides into little strips and start braiding. I fold the end in first so I can cover it up as I go.

One all braided. And then two, ready to go into the oven. You don't have to let them rise, they'll puff up just fine in the oven. I bake them at 350 degrees. They come out about 45 minutes later golden brown. Trust me on this...let them cook until they are really golden. Check the bottom to make sure it's done before you take it out. If it's not done put them back in on the bottom rack for a few minutes. If you don't cook it long enough the center will be doughy. The gooey cheese doesn't help with that!

Now it took me about twice as long to type up this post as it did to actually make the braids so don't be discouraged. It really is very easy. I promise your family will love you!

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