Russian Roses for World Bread Day (BBB October 2012)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Russian Rose based on Caucasian Bread and Julia’s Rose; a Bread Baking Babes project; World Bread Day; World Food Day; submission for YeastSpotting and Bake Your Own Bread; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2012

In August, we were absolutely entranced by Julia’s Rose that breadsong baked for Julia Child’s birthday.

Russian Roses I immediately tried out a Russian Braid with banana cinnamon bread and loved it. But I still wanted to make a savoury bread that was closer to the kind of festive bread baked in the Caucasus. And then Tanna brilliantly suggested that we all bake Russian braids to celebrate World Bread Day. How happy was I?

BBB Russian Rose diary:

18 September 2012, 13:55 I’m so excited to be making this again! (What to fill with, what to fill with…).

21 September 2012, 17:44 I was heading towards using the red beans with garlic and coriander leaf described on the bottom of page 293 of “Flatbreads and Flavours” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford. But T nixed it (I don’t know why; he usually loves beans). He votes for spinach/goatscheese/onion. I might be able to work on him to change his mind. But is it worth it? Spinach/goatscheese/onion sounds pretty darn good to me. And I could sprinkle with sumac the way that Julia did.

Wednesday 3 October 09:29: I waffled some more. I started thinking about using basil pesto as a filling. Then I reconsidered the goats’ cheese filling and replacing the spinach with parsley. But I realized that would make the finished rose a green colour. I really wanted it to be somewhat rose coloured.

Once again, what to use, what to use?

I didn’t want to use tomatoes. That would be too much like pizza. And then it came to me: Onions!! Caramelized onions! And if I used red onions and maybe a little red wine, that might make the filling more rose coloured.

First I looked through our recipes to see what we had done with caramelized onions. Then I did a little googling to see if anyone else had done something like this with bread. Of course, they had! Sure, some of them had put the caramelized onions right into the dough but who cares? It is still permission for me to use caramelized onions as a filling. (Why do I feel like I need permission? Why can’t I just go ahead and try it if I think it might work?)

Sunday 14 October 07:20: Nothing like leaving it almost down to the wire, eh? :lalala: I just finished mixing the dough. It took ages! Not that the mixing part took so long. It was finding the ingredients. Or rather, one of the ingredients. I really wanted to replace the sprouted wheat flour that Tanna used with sorghum flour. I KNEW we had some.

I rifled through the drawer that it should be in.

What’s this?? [picking up a smallish unlabelled bag] …nope!
-me, our kitchen, 06:32

Not there. I rifled through the other drawer that someone might have put it in by mistake. Not there either. I went back to the other drawer and rifled some more.

What IS this?? [picking up the smallish unlabelled bag again and opening it] WHAAaaaa??! It IS the sorghum flour! :stomp: Who folds a bag over so the label doesn’t show?!!
-me, our kitchen, 06:38

I finally managed to get all the ingredients into the bowl and mix them together. Eeeeek. Too dry! Too dry!!

I imagined that if I dumped the floury mess onto the board and kneaded it, it would all come together nicely.


So I added 50gm more water. Well. That wasn’t enough either. I added 25gm more. The dough was still pretty stiff. So I added 25gm more. The dough is still on the stiff side but I’m thinking it might relax nicely as it rised. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Oh yes, and there’s another reason that my fingers are crossed. When I was measuring the yeast, I finished the last few grains that were in the jar in the fridge and opened a new jar. It looked very strange – light coloured and fine. My first thought was, “Now what have they done and why did they change things?” (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before *snicker*, but I hate change.)

But, of course, they didn’t change anything. Someone (who, me???) misread the label at the supermarket and bought (eeeeek) bread machine (cue sound effects) yeast!

I know. People use bread machine, aka instant yeast all the time. But I’ve never used it. Because, of course, I hate change.

17:58: Wheee!!! Are we having fun yet?

Okay, actually, now that the bread is shaped, I am having fun. But we really did mismanage our time. We went for a bike ride while the bread was rising. We got home just before 15:00. The dough was ready to shape. But it was such a lovely afternoon that we decided to just push the dough down and go riding some more.

We got home around 17:00, just in time for T to be making dinner (dilled cream sauce for roast chicken pieces) AND for me to be caramelizing onions, etc. then shaping the bread. In our small kitchen.

After a brief few moments of vying for counter-space, we actually managed relatively well. I hastily sliced onions and chopped prunes, as mustard seeds began to pop in the frying pan. Caramelizing the onions was a breeze. I threw in the prunes and their softening water as well as a little cider vinegar and sherry.

Then I turned out the dough in preparation for shaping. I LOVE it when it just falls out of the bowl.

Once again, say it with me: there is no need to oil the rising bowl.

After cutting the dough in half, I rolled out one piece – it rolled out beautifully – and began to slather it with half the prune/onion mixture. Oh oh. Not enough. With T’s encouragement, I put ALL the prune/onion mixture onto the dough and smeared it around, then added little pieces of soften goat’s cheese.

I jelly rolled; cut in half; Russian braided; coiled; placed in parchment papered spring-form pan. It was beautiful!

Then I had to decide with what to fill the other piece of dough. T kept saying cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon rolls. But I was determined that these roses would be savoury roses.

So I poured on some olive oil, scattered sunflower seeds and coarse seasalt. Once the rose was formed and placed in our parchment papered quiche pan, I sprinkled it liberally with sumac.

And because it looked so beautiful, I sprinkled the prune/onion rose with sumac too.

Fingers crossed that I won’t have to be jumping up and down during dinner to bake these roses.

Moral of the story: Plan ahead!

21:33: The bread was ready to be baked JUST as we were about to sit down to dinner. All during dinner, I would excuse myself and jump up to race to the kitchen to check the bread, turn it around, and reset the timer.

Of course it took more than 30 minutes to bake. Closer to 40 minutes, in fact. But at last it was done.

And it looks rustically beautiful. I think the one baked in the quiche pan looks more like a rose than the one baked in the springform pan. Next time, I’ll choose the quiche pan. Even though the resulting bread is flatter, I think I prefer the look of it.

It’s cooling now. We’ll cut into one of them for breakfast tomorrow. But which one? Which one shall we choose?

Russian Roses Because we have so little room in the freezer, we decided to cut into the taller loaf. We toasted the slices for breakfast.

I confess that I was a little disappointed in the filling. It turns out that it works better in little tarts. But, please don’t get me wrong. It was still pretty delicious. If I’d never had the tarts before, I would have said it was great; the toast was good on its own and even better with butter.

T was still chafing that I hadn’t made sweet cinnamon bread so he sprinkled his buttered Russian rose toast with sugar. And he then said it was wonderful.

I can’t wait to find out how the sunflower rose turned out!

I will definitely make this bread again. But next time, the filling will have to have fewer lumps. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll make a sweet filling. 🙂

Here is the BBB October 2012 Russian Rose recipe. And here is what I did to it:

Russian Rose
based on guro’s recipe for Caucasian Bread and Julia’s Rose baked by Breadsong on the Freshloaf

Sorry, there are no measurements for the fillings ¹. You’ll have to wing it, as I did.

“the options [for the filling] are only limited by your imagination and what’s in your kitchen!”
-Tanna, BBB October 2012 recipe

Filling I
based on our recipe for Prune Blue Cheese Tarts

  • olive oil
  • brown mustard seeds
  • onion, halved and finely sliced in half-moons
  • prunes, pitted and quartered
  • boiling water
  • cider vinegar
  • sherry
  • salt and pepper
  • creamy goat’s cheese
  • sumac

Filling II

  • olive oil
  • cider vinegar
  • coarse seasalt
  • sunflower seeds, shelled
  • sumac


  • 60gm (~ ¼ c) lukewarm water ²
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 240 gm water
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar lemon juice ³
  • 50 gm sunflower oil
  • 10 gm honey
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
  • 350 gm unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 200 gm whole wheat flour
  • 50 gm sorghum flour 4
  • 12 gm Kosher salt 5
  • sumac, for dusting
  1. Filling I Cut the pitted prunes in quarters (this way you can remove any rogue pits), put them in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to just cover the prunes. Set the bowl aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Thinly slice the onion. Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Pour in oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add onions and salt. Saute until the most of the liquid is evaporated and the onions are transluscent with a tinge of gold. Add cider vinegar, sherry, prunes and their liquid. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed. The onions should be quite soft. Set aside.
  3. Mixing the dough In a smallish bowl, whisk yeast with the lukewarm water (do the baby’s bottle test on your wrist) until it resembles cream. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl large enough for the dough to double, pour the rest of the water. Stir in oil and honey. (If the honey is stiff because of a chilly kitchen, use warm water instead of room temperature.) Add wheat germ, chia and ground flax seeds. Dump in flours and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is mostly absorbed.
  5. Add in the yeast mixture and stir to form a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and let sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
  6. Kneading Scatter a small amount of flour onto the board and turn the dough out.
  7. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Please do not be tempted to skip this step.)
  8. Hand knead the dough 10 to 15 minutes, adding the smallest amounts of additional flour if dough is sticky. Let your dough scraper be your friend to keep the board clean.
  9. Proofing Form the dough into a ball and put it in the clean bowl; cover it with a plate (there is no need to oil the bowl!) Let the dough rise in a no-draft place at room temperature (or in the oven with only the light turned on if you want) until it has doubled in size. Gently deflate dough. Recover with the plate and allow to rise until doubled again.
  10. Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board; cut it in half with a dough scraper if you have one, with a knife if you don’t.
  11. Filling, Braiding and Shaping banana cinnamon braid Shaping Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board. Turn the dough out and cut it in two. Fold each piece of dough in half, cover with a clean tea towel and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, line a small quiche pan with parchment paper and put another piece of parchment paper into a small spring form pan.
    1. Russian braid Using a floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a large rectangle, as thinly as you can. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with the caramelized onions and prune mixture (use your fingers to spread them evenly across the dough). Scatter small pieces of creamy goats’ cheese overtop. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can like a jelly roll to form a long tube.
    2. banana cinnamon braid Use a sharp knife or the dough scraper to cut the tube in half lengthwise. Turn the pieces so the lines from the filling show. Fasten two ends of the halves and gently twist the two pieces together, keeping the filling lines facing upward. When the twist is finished, loop it around to make a shell shape. Push the ends under with your fingers. Try to hide the join as best you can. Place the coil into the quiche pan. Sprinkle with sumac.

    Russian Braid Repeat with other piece of dough, by slathering the rectangle with olive oil, then evenly scattering a handful or two of sunflower seeds overtop. Sprinkle on some coarse seasalt. Jellyroll, slice in half, Russian braid and coil. Place the rose into the spring form pan. Sprinkle liberally with sumac. 6

  12. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a large plastic bag and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled.
  13. Baking When the loaves have doubled, turn the oven to 400F. Spray each one liberally with water and sprinkle sumac overtop. Put them on the TOP rack of the oven to prevent them from burning on the bottom. Immediately turn the oven down to 375F. Bake for about 30 minutes in total, turning them around once half way through to account for uneven oven heat. The bread is done when it is golden on top and sounds hollow on the bottom (around 200F inside).
  14. Remove the bread from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Wait until the bread is completely cool before cutting into it! It is still continuing to bake inside! 7


1.) Filling: Tanna suggested butter, garlic, parmesan, salt, rosemary or basil. I’d still like to try red beans with garlic and coriander leaf. Or spinach/goatscheese/onion. Or a sweet filling…. We’ll definitely do te cinnamon/sugar version again too.

2.) Water: Tanna called for only 300gm of water. The dough was so stiff that I added 100 gm more. Tap water is fine to use. However, under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Heat the water in a kettle or microwave (to create lukewarm water, add cold water until it is the correct temperature – use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist. Or… you can use a thermometer.) Please note that before the yeast is added, the water temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

3.) Lemon juice or Vinegar? Tanna called for white vinegar (and then in the end decided not to use it…). I almost used cider vinegar and then suddenly switched to lemon juice.

4.) Flour: Tanna called for a mixture of flours, including sprouted wheat flour. I was lazy and decided to use sorghum flour instead. Sorghum flour is available in IndiaTown under the name of “Jawar”. Breadsong called for simply all-purpose flour in her bread.

5.) Salt: Tanna called for just 10 gm of salt (1.6%). But I decided to up the amount to 12gm (2%). Apparently, if there is not enough salt, the bread may not brown enough. And the reverse is true as well; if there is too much salt, the bread may turn out too brown or red.

Salt indirectly contributes to crust coloring. This attribute is a result of the salt’s characteristic of retarding fermentation. Starch in the flour is converted into simple sugars […] Since the salt is slowing the rate of the sugar consumption, more of what is known as residual sugar is available at the time of the bake for crust coloration.
-King Arthur Flour, salt

Typically the amount of salt in a dough is between 1.8 and 2 percent of the amount of flour, by weight. If there is a large proportion of other ingredients, such as seeds, for which salt also enhances flavor, the percentage of salt could be a little higher.
-Susan, Wild Yeast, Wild Yeast: Worth Its Salt – The Role of Salt in Bread

6.) Shaping The braid can also be looped into a circle as I did not long ago for Banana Cinnamon bread.

7.) But I LIKE warm bread If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven directly on a rack for ten minutes. If the bread happens to be is a little stale, put it into a paper bag first. Spray the bag liberally with water and place it in the hot oven until the bag is dry (about 10 minutes).

edit 24 October 2012: We got the Sunflower version out of the freezer and tried it this morning for breakfast. It was good but not nearly as outstanding as its shape was promising. Now I’m even more inclined to make a sweet filling next time – like the banana cinnamon bread. In fact, maybe it will be very soon. We have some bananas languishing on the shelf now.

Bread Baking Babes
Bread Baking Babes (and Buddies): October 2012 - Russian Rose

Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups) is the host of October 2012’s Bread Baking Babes’ task. She wrote:

A New Love, A New Romance

When we did Julia’s Birthday Bread, this bread turned up on my radar. […] Now, seems like a perfect time to rope a few Babes into the romance. It does seem shaping has truly started to hook me.

Let’s do it for World Bread Day […]I’m easy with whatever you might chose to fill this with, so change that if you like. This romance is about SHAPE.

Because World Bread Day falls on our usual posting date, Tanna suggested that we invite the BBBuddies to bake along with us at the same time. However, if you haven’t done so already, we know that you too will WANT to bake this bread!! We’d love to see how your bread turned out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ Russian Roses:

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB)
BYOB is a monthly event hosted by Heather (girlichef)

that encourages you to start (or continue) getting comfortable baking bread in your own kitchen. Anything from simple quick breads to conquering that fear of yeast to making and nurturing your own sourdough starter. All levels of bakers are welcome to participate.

BYOB Badge For more information about BYOB, please read the following:

World Bread Day / World Food Day
World Bread Day 2012 - 7th edition! Bake loaf of bread on October 16 and blog about it!World Food Day: Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world ( Please note that today is both World Bread Day and World Food Day. World Bread Day is an annual event set to coincide with World Food Day, where participants are invited to bake bread and share it. World Food Day is a yearly event put together by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to raise awareness and funds to feed the world’s chronically hungry. This year’s theme is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world” as the FAO works towards better approaches to ending world hunger. Remember, there IS enough food in the world to feed everyone. What we are lacking are ways to ensure that all the world’s people get their rightful share. It’s up to us to feed our hungry neighbours.

For more about World Food Day and World Bread Day 2012, please read the following:

  • 1x umrühren bitte, aka Kochtopf: Announcing World Bread Day 2012 – 7th edition!
  • World Food Day 2012


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9 responses to “Russian Roses for World Bread Day (BBB October 2012)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    My romance with this was the shape … in the beginning. Now I’ve matured … do you like were this is going … and now I think the romance is in the endless variations of fillings that have been filling my head since I baked the first loaf. Make it easy. Make it elegant. Make it gorgeous. What to fill it with next … What to fill it with next …

    I think your roses are wonderful.

  2. Lien

    A real creative filling here, plums and goats cheese, I like that. I also really love that idea with the banana btw. Our youngest hates bananas (and is allergic to cheese) so I probably won’t make them, but still dream I can smell them from your kitchen…… (sweet and savory dreams he he he)

  3. ejm Post author

    I know what you mean, Tanna. There are so many choices! I’m under strict instructions to do a sweet filling next. But now that I no longer have the urge to ensure that the rose is red, I’m so tempted to try a pesto version first. I LOVE this Russian braiding!

    Thank you, Lien! Too bad about your youngest disliking bananas but I wonder what would happen if pumpkin in the sweet version was substituted for the banana. Or how about mashed stewed plums! Or apple sauce….

    Good idea to try dates, Katie. I do love dates stuffed with goats’ cheese so dates and goats’ cheese in a filling for one of these roses seem so obvious now.

    Ha, Karen! No need to even pretend to apologize. Misery really does love company. 🙂


  4. breadsong

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I love the idea of savory fillings for this bread and your rose is completely gorgeous!
    I’m thrilled your group chose this bread for World Bread Day!
    :^) breadsong

    Thank YOU for your Julia Rose! -E

  5. zorra

    Awesome! I can’t decide which filling is my favorite.

    Thank you for baking for Word Bread Day. Hope you will join us next year again!

    Thank YOU for hosting WBD, Zorra! We finally tasted the sunflower seed version and even though it was prettier than the other one, we thought the onion/prune was better. If you make this bread, do let us know which filling you choose. -Elizabeth

  6. Ckay

    Wow! That’s a wheapon you use to divide the log! Wouldn’t put my fingers there 🙂
    I’ve loved so much making and shaping this bread and I’m so grateful to all of you, BBB
    for providing delicious, great techniques, versatile breads.
    I’ve learned so much from you.
    Thank you ♥

    Haha! I hadn’t thought about how much the dough scraper does look like a lethal weapon. Now I’m going to be afraid to use it. 😉 -E

  7. Elle

    You are so creative Elizabeth!…especially for someone who doesn’t like change 🙂
    Lovely loaves! Bet the next pair will be pesto (yes, it really is wonderful) and something like apple butter with cinnamon and sugar since your hubby has been waiting for that sweet version, yes?

    The pesto one does sound awfully good, Elle, but I’m under strict orders to make the next one sweet. Apple butter sounds very good. So does your idea of apricot jam that you mentioned on your post about BBB Russian roses. -Elizabeth


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