I am sorry that I haven't been posting much this week. Things around here have been... well... crazy.
It started when little man, who has had the nickname "stunt-baby" for a while, broke his leg. Yeah. Smallest cast I've ever seen in my life.
Then little miss got a stomach bug over the weekend. Yuck.
Then, in a twisted case of "you're never going to believe this...," Daddy broke his leg, too.
That's right. The boys in the house are sporting matching blue casts.
Luckily little miss is feeling better.
In the middle of all of this, Julie over at Willow Bird Baking announced her second baking challenge. I had so much fun with the first one (these cinnamon rolls) that I really wanted to participate. But with the reality of taking care of everyone, I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to.
But today I decided that I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way, and I just went for it.
This week's challenge was to make a braided bread of some sort, using this dough recipe. It's not a yeasted dough. In fact, it is a super simple, very quick dough. It's usually used for sweet or breakfast-y treats, but we were challenged to innovate, and to choose a filling and glaze/topping of our choice.
I first thought I'd just punt and go with a simple jam filling. But then I figured, if I am going to bother participating in the challenge, I couldn't cop out. So I decided to make a dinner braid, using what I had on hand.
The dough is super simple. It's supposed to be made in the food processor, but, not having a full-sized one, I used my KitchenAid mixer. The key is to only mix the dough until the ingredients are just incorporated, being careful not to overwork it. And, seeing as I was going for a savory braid, I chose to omit the flavoring extracts called for in the breakfast version of the recipe.
The dough is then carefully rolled out and sectioned and cut to be filled and braided.
And what did I choose for my filling? I went easy. But tasty. I had a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the refrigerator, so I boiled them, shredded them, and simmered them in taco seasonings. The shredded meat was topped with grated cheddar cheese, and I started "braiding."
My braid turned out a little uneven, but not too bad.
And it baked up super quickly. 15 minutes and dinner was ready.
I mean, almost ready. Remember that we were supposed to choose not only a filling, but a glaze, too. With a taco filling, I decided on salsa and sour cream as "glazes."
Oh. My. Gosh.
This was so delicious. Everyone loved it. And had seconds. And little miss requested that I send the leftovers with her as lunch for school tomorrow.
With how easy this dough is, I see many more braids in our future.
Julie, thank you, thank you, thank you for another awesome, inspiring and truly delicious challenge!! I can't wait for next week!!
Chicken Taco Braid
(inspired by Willow Bird Baking)
for the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup milk, minus 1/2 teaspoon (I used coconut milk)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In the bowl of a food processor (or stand mixer), mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture and pulse (or mix on low speed with paddle attachment) to cut the fat into the flour (about 6 pulses). Add the milk and blend (mix on medium speed) into a loose dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead VERY LIGHTLY for 4-5 strokes. (note: This is the step at which you can ruin the braid. If you overwork the dough, the pastry will be tough. Just gather the dough together and don’t worry about making it smooth. It will still look a little rough. That’s perfect.)
Between two sheets of waxed paper, roll the dough to a rectangle approximately 8" by 12". Turn dough out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and remove the waxed paper. (note - I rolled my dough between one piece of parchment paper and one piece of waxed paper, then just peeled off the waked paper and transferred the parchment paper to my baking sheet - worked like a charm!) Measure and mark the dough lengthwise into thirds.
Make 2¾-inch slight diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals on each the long sides. Do not cut into the center area, where the filling goes.
for the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 packet taco seasonings
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (more or less to taste)
Boil chicken breasts for about 25 minutes until cooked through. Remove from water and shred the meat.
Add the shredded meat to a skillet, sprinkle taco seasoning on top and add water to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
Allow the chicken to cool before filling dough.
to prepare the braid:
Spread the seasoned, shredded chicken along the middle section of the rolled out dough. Top the chicken with the shredded cheddar cheese. Fold the cut strips, first one from one side and then one from the other side in a rotating fashion, over the filling. It will now resemble a braid.
Bake in a 425° oven for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the top is lightly browned.
As a topping, spoon or pipe (if you want to make it look like glaze) salsa and sour cream over the top of the finished braid.