I must admit, while working on this Holiday Bread Wreath with Camembert recipe I had Christmas on my mind. It was one of those early August cold and cloudy days in Nairobi, I was homesick and I was trying to book a trip to Montreal for the holidays. So developing a recipe for a Christmas treat was such a comforting thing to do. This being said, you really don’t have to wait until December to make the bread wreath. Serve it as an appetizer at your Thanksgiving gathering or simply at your next dinner party with friends and family.
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup milk, warm
1 1/2 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp canola oil
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs dry yeast
2 Tbs milk
For the Garlic Rosemary Camembert:
200g camembert wheel
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 Tbs olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Make the bread wreath: Combine 3 1/2 cups flour and the 2 tsp salt in a large bowl and mix well.
In a small bowl stir together the warm (not hot) milk, the melted butter and the sugar. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until bubbly.
Add the milk mixture to the flour and knead until smooth and silky by adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour little by little as needed. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Add 1 tsp of canola oil and knead for 1 more minute.
Cover with cling film and put in a free of draft, warm place such as an oven or a microwave for 1 hour of until doubled in size.
Line a large round baking sheet with parchment paper and place the wooden box the camembert comes in, or another ovenproof round dish in the center.
Place the dough on a lightly floured countertop and press the air out of it. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and then cut each of the four into 6. Roll each piece into a ball, roughly the size of a golf ball and arrange them in circle around the camembert box. Leave about 1/2 cm between the balls, they will need space to expand while in the oven. Cover with a kitchen towel and put in a warm place for 30-40 min.
Prep the camembert wheel: Remove the cheese from its paper and transfer it to the same wooden box or ovenproof round dish you used earlier to build the wreath.
Using a pairing knife score the camembert wheel in a crosshatch pattern.
Slice the garlic cloves lengthwise in four and press them down into the cheese.
Cut the rosemary sprigs into 6 1-inch pieces and stick them among the garlic cloves.
Drizzles the olive oil and add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and 2 Tbs of milk. Brush each ball with the egg wash and sprinkle with the poppy seeds, sesame seeds and the sea salt.
Bake: Place the wheel of camembert in the center of the bread wreath and bake in medium position for 15-20 minutes.
Serve: Decorate with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.
Make it ahead: The bread wreath an the camembert need the same amount of time in the oven, but you can bake the bread wreath ahead of time, earlier in the day, cover it with a kitchen towel for 2 – 3 hours and bake the cheese when your guests are about to arrive. You can pop the bread wreath in the oven for a minute to gently worm it up and no one will know that it was baked earlier.