The holidays are in full swing and that means we really need to start thinking about our entertaining menus. 9 times out of 10 I wait until the last minute to plan things out, and then I’m left scrambling around trying to get my life in order like a chicken with it’s head cut off. It’s not a pretty sight. This year however, I’ve decided to take initiative and de-stress my holiday gatherings, so to speak. I’m getting a head start by sharing this beautiful holiday recipe for a show-stopping Baked Brie and Bread Wreath. Not only does it act as a delicious appetizer, but it can also double as an awesome centerpiece for any holiday party. I don’t know about you, but an edible centerpiece is just the kind of thing we need more of because they kill two birds with one stone. (Sorry for all the gruesome bird metaphors). I guarantee you 100% that if you place this on your table, everyone will be blown away and you’ll be the talk of the town. If you’re not ready for all that fame, perhaps don’t give this recipe a try. I’m kidding, you most definitely should give it a try because it’s ridiculously delicious!
Let’s start by making the dough for the rolls that make up this bread wreath. This is a basic Parker House roll recipe that we’re going to flavor with some rosemary and salt later on. As with most yeast doughs, we need to bloom the active dry yeast in a little warm water and a tiny bit of sugar.
**Tip: Dissolve the yeast in warm water with a pinch of the sugar and let sit until foamy and frothy, about 10 minutes. If the mixture doesn’t foam up, throw out and start again. Perhaps your water wasn’t warm enough or maybe it was too hot!**
Meanwhile, scald the milk in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, the butter has melted and the milk has cooled slightly.
**Tip: You just want to bring the milk to a small simmer. Do not let it boil because it’ll bubble over and might scorch the milk and then it’ll ruin the taste of your bread!**
Combine the milk mixture, eggs, yeast mixture, salt and half of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment. Stir until smooth.
Then add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until a smooth ball forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead on high until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the ball, shape into a ball and then place back into the bowl (that you’ve lightly greased with cooking spray or vegetable oil to prevent from sticking). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
**Tip: A good spot is either above the fridge, on top of the stove or in an even that you’ve turned on for a few minutes and then turned off to create somewhat of a warm atmosphere.**
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down to release the air that has built up and transfer to a work surface. At this stage, you won’t need any flour on your hands or work surface! Divide the dough into 46 even pieces. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel. Then, working with one piece at a time, roll into a tight smooth ball by rolling on the work surface with the palm of your hand, in a rotating motion.
Place a wheel of brie in the center of a large round baking pan lined with parchment paper. As you roll the bread dough. Place around the wheel of brie making sure to line them up snuggly next to each other.
**Note: Depending on the size of your baking pan, you should be able to fit about 29 balls of dough around the brie wheel in two rows. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, just make sure They’re placed evenly together, touching each other!**
You’ll have about 19 or so leftover rolls that won’t fit onto the wreath pan. I place these on a separate 9-inch round cake pan that has been greased. I bake them separately and serve them along the wreath, just in case your guests need more bread to dip into the cheese!
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and then let rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once risen, brush the bread carefully with egg wash and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and coarse salt. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
**Note: In a small bowl, I combine chopped parsley, thyme and oregano with olive oil, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I pour half of this mixture on top of the brie before baking.**
Right before serving, I like to garnish the wreath with pomegranate seeds to give it the look of “holly” and little sprigs of fresh rosemary to make it look like greens on a wreath. I also pour the rest of the herbed oil mixture on top of the brie in the center!
Just have your guests rip and pull the rolls away from the wreath and then grab some of the baked melted brie in the center with a knife or spoon. It’s the greatest holiday recipe because it acts like both an appetizer and a centerpiece! If you want to give the brie a sweet and salty twist, instead of the herbed oil mixture on top, you can add a layer of jam and bake as directed! The sweetness and tartness would work so well with the cheese and savoriness from the bread.
Baked Brie and Bread Wreath
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg whisked with splash of water
- 1 8-ounce wheel of brie
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves finely chopped
- 1 sprig of thyme finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of fresh oregano finely chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- pinch fo salt and pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary sprigs
- In a small saucepan, heat up the milk over medium-low heat until just scalded, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the stove and add the butter and all but 1 teaspoon of the sugar, stirring until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
- Meanwhile combine the warm water, reserved teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Allow to sit until the mixture has foamed, about 10 minutes. If the mixture doesn't foam up, toss and start again.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture, 3 eggs, salt and half of the flour. Combine on low until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until the mixture comes together and forms somewhat of a smooth ball that comes off the sides of the bowl. Knead on high for about 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a well-oiled bowl and let the dough rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Once doubled, punch the dough down to release the air and transfer to a work surface. Cut into 46 or so even pieces (about the size of a golfball) and keep covered with a damp kitchen towel. Working with one piece at time, roll into a tight smooth ball by rolling the dough with the palms of your hands on the work surface.
- Place the wheel of brie in the center of a large round flat baking pan I use a pizza pan.
- In a small bowl combing the parsley, thyme, oregano, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Then start lining up the roll dough balls around the brie in a single layer (in 2 rows), as snug as possibile. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and let rest in warm spot for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brush the bread with egg wash and then sprinkle with chopped rosemary and coarse salt. Spoon half of the parsley oil mixture on top of the brie. The remaining rolls that didn't fit on the wreath pan, can be placed in a round cake pan and baked separately.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden brown and puffed up, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprigs. Pour the remaining herbed oil mixture over the brie. Serve warm and enjoy!