Apricot Roll and a Braid (BBD#08)

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recipe: Apricot Roll and a Braid

Here I am once again, just under the wire, with my post for

Bread Baking Day (BBD) #08: Celebrate!

apricot roll and a braid Join me in celebrating the end (I hope) of winter, bread bakers, Bread Baking Day itself, and of course, Zorra‘s birthday.

I was going to try making a colombe or panettone with my wild yeast starter. But I just can’t seem to tame it while the kitchen is so chilly. I contemplated making challah again – I’ve made it once at a friend’s house using Grandma Rosie’s Fabulous Challah Recipe. apricot roll As delicious as the challah is, for BBD, I really do like to make something new.

Ever since I saw it, I’ve been meaning to make Manuela’s (Baking History) Kuchen Roll that she made for BBD#5. This was the perfect opportunity: a celebration of Bread Baking Day itself and all the bread bakers who have shared their recipes.

(click on images for larger views and more photos)

I thought it would be fun to use dried apricots instead of prunes for the filling. As I was putting the dough together, I decided to add less sugar. I wanted the final result to be more like bread than cake. And because there is enough dough for two loaves, I decided to make one as a roll and braid the other one without filling it.

Not just any braid though. I made a five strand braid to make the bread a little more festive.

Here is what I did to make the bread:

Apricot Roll and a Braid
based on a Manuela’s recipe for Kuchen Roll


  • ½ c (120ml) cold sweet (unsalted) butter, cubed
  • 1¾ c (440ml) boiling water*
  • ¼ c (60ml) lukewarm water*
  • 1½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ c (60ml) sugar
  • ⅔ c (170ml) milk powder
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c (60ml) wholewheat flour**
  • 2¾ c (680ml)** unbleached all-purpose flour
  • grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1½ tsp seasalt
  • leftover sludge from feeding wild yeast starter, optional
  • cream or milk, for brushing


  • ½ lb (225 g) dried pitted apricots, quartered
  • water, to cover apricots*
  • small cinnamon stick
  • ¼ c (60ml) sugar
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • lemon zest


  1. Dough: Put butter in a bowl that is large enough for the final mixture to triple. Pour boiling water over top. Stir until there are not butter lumps. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, add the yeast, lukewarm water and some of the sugar. Whisk together until til creamy. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg lightly and add to the butter mixture.
  4. Put the rest of the bread ingredients (except the leftover sludge, if using, and the cream for brushing) into a bowl that is large enough for the mixture to triple. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the flours are incorporated. Double-check the temperature of the dough against your wrist to make sure it has cooled to “baby bottle” temperature or lower.
  5. Add the yeast mixture, which will probably have started bubbling (don’t worry if it hasn’t; if it hasn’t, don’t be overly concerned; as long as the temperature of the ingredients has not exceeded “baby-bottle” levels, the dough should rise). The dough at this point will look a bit like slightly stiff oatmeal porridge. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured work surface.
  7. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
  8. Kneading: Without adding extra flour, knead the dough until it is smooth and silky (about 10 minutes). Let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend if the dough is sticking to the board. One hand scrapes the dough and the other kneads. Under no circumstances should you add more flour. If you find your kneading hand is sticking to much, just scrape off the excess with the scraper and continue. Cover with a clean damp tea towel (or use one of those elasticized reusable plastic covers that look like shower hats) and allow to rise in a draftfree area of the counter rise at room temperature (on counter in summer; in oven with only the light turned on in winter) until the dough has just doubled.
  9. Filling: While the dough is rising, wash the apricots (Manuela used prunes to make her filling; next time I think I will do the same.) to rinse off any coating that has been put on them for packaging. Quarter each apricot to ensure that there are no pits. Put the apricots in a small pot and just cover with cold water. Toss in a small cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer to allow the apricots to bubble gently for about 15 minutes til they are fork tender.
  10. Remove the cinnamon stick. Purée the apricots. Add sugar and lemon juice and bring back to a boil briefly. Take off the heat. Stir in lemon zest. Set the apricot mixture aside in the fridge to cool.
  11. Shaping: When the dough has doubled, sprinkle flour on the work surface. Gently turn the dough out. Cut the dough in half. Put one half aside.
  12. Pat the other half into a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a long rectangle about 2cm thick. Make sure you can lift the rectangle off the board. Evenly slather the surface of the dough with all of the apricot mixture – leave one short section of the narrow edge of the rectangle bare to allow for sealing the seam. Roll it up and seal the edge. Place the roll seam side down on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
  13. Pat the remaining half into a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a long rectangle about 2cm thick. Make sure you can lift the rectangle off the board. Evenly cut the rectangle into 5 long pieces. Pinch the ends of all five pieces and braid the strands. Fold the edges under and place on another parchment covered cookie sheet.
  14. Cover both shaped loaves with a clean damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for an hour or more – until they are about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
  15. Baking: Twenty minutes before you are going to bake, put a rack on the highest part of the oven. Turn the oven to 400F.
  16. At the time of baking, brush the top of each loaf liberally with cream or milk. (Manuela’s recipe calls for an egg wash; I’m always nervous of getting an eggy taste so prefer to use cream to create the shine.) Put the bread in oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350F. Bake the bread for a total of 30 to 35 minutes. Half way through the baking, turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the oven.
  17. Remove to cool on a rack. Wait til the bread is cool before cutting it. It is still continuing to bake inside!***
*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.

Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

** Please note that a Canadian cup holds 250ml. When I measure flour, I really fluff it up in the bag before scooping out flour to roughly fill the cup.

*** If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat unsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

I neglected to take photos of how I did the braid. This website has a pretty good set of illustrations on how to do it:

apricot roll The apricot roll is delicious! It’s particularly good toasted and buttered (as if more butter is required….) with cheese on the side. Roccolo, Ilha Branca and creamy goat’s cheese are excellent choices.

Next time I think I will put in just a little more nutmeg to the dough. I was very sparing with it, afraid it would take over. And also, as Manuela suggests, I will use prunes rather than apricots. Apricots are nice but I think the flavour of the prunes will be better with the bread, not to mention, prettier in the roll. Finally, I’ll add less filling, and serve the extra in a little bowl on the side. I like the idea of the roll having just a hint of the fruit flavour.

But please don’t get me wrong. We really loved this bread. And we really loved how much oven spring there was. Imagine how tall it would have been if I’d put the bread in tins to bake!

We haven’t tasted the braid yet but we know that it will be delicious as well. I may have to make some apricot or prune jam to go with it though.

Thank you, Manuela, for the wonderful recipe. And many many thanks to Susan for this festive theme for bread baking day!

previous posts featuring pastries, bread or dessert with apricots:

Event announcement: Bread Baking Day #08

Bread Baking Day#8 Susan (Wild Yeast) is hosting the eighth round of Bread Baking Day and has chosen “celebration” as the theme. She wrote:

As one of the oldest and most universal of foods, bread is associated with celebrations in every part of the world. For this month’s BreadBakingDay, you are invited to share your own spring holiday bread tradition, explore one you’re not yet familiar with, or start a new one.

To participate, choose any seasonal holiday or event you’d like to honor with a special bread*. On or before April 1 2008, bake a bread to celebrate or represent your holiday.[…]

*Birthday breads will also be accepted, in honor of the March birthday of BBD’s charming founder and steward, Zorra.

For complete details on how to participate in BBD#08, please go to:

Please also read about previous BBDs and WBDs:

blog from OUR kitchen posts:


And finally, before completing your BBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about


Please note that I have not forgotten that today is 1 April. But I decided to refrain from playing tricks on the blog this year. I thought my time would be better spent posting for BBD#08 (let alone that I couldn’t think of anything…).


This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf

This entry was posted in baking, BBD, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, crossblogging, dessert, food & drink, posts with recipes on by .

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4 responses to “Apricot Roll and a Braid (BBD#08)

  1. Susan

    That toast looks to die for! And your 5-braid is expertly-crafted. Great all the way around — thanks for sending this to BBD, even down to the wire !

  2. Baking History

    Elizabeth, I saw your post only now. I am so happy and honored you chose this recipe to participate in BBD #8! It looks gorgeous and must be great. I love dried apricots! Unfortunately I came down with influenza (and my family as well at the same time, of course) and I was not up to baking and missed bbd#8.
    I was going to make a Purim pastry but did not have the energy.
    Thank you again for trying this recipe!!!

  3. Harini

    I could ony gasp when I came and saw such a beautifully maintained site!! Great job! Also liked the braid very much. I will try it sometime. I have just learnt normal braiding!!

  4. ejm Post author

    The toast really is good, Susan. And I was rather proud of the braid, although I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the strands to be enough the same size so the braid wasn’t absolutely even.

    Sorry to hear that you and your family were so sick, Manuela! I’m glad to hear that you have all recovered now. We really do love this bread – my husband particularly likes the braided loaf and wants it again soon. Thank YOU again for the recipe.

    You are too kind, Harini. Do try the braid. If you know how to do a three strand braid, a five is done pretty much the same way.


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