Braided Roasted Red Pepper Bread

February 23, 2012 · 10 comments · Print This Post

in Baked Goods, Bread / Rolls


Truth. I am horrible at doing my own hair. I also haven’t gone to the salon since September so that complicates things even more. Therefore right now I essentially have two “styles.” They are messy bun and disheveled curls made via hot rollers. Kate Middleton wouldn’t be caught dead out in public with me. She’d seriously make me stay in the car while she perused Top Shop and Zara.

What’s all of this hair talk about anyway? Well, you see, I can’t create anything fancier than a three-strand boring old braid on my own head but thanks to a little help from a friend I can now whip up a stunning six-strand braid of dough and bake it into bread. Pretty amazing, right? But let’s go back to the beginning.

This roasted red pepper bread has been kicking around my kitchen in a purple folder full of loose recipes for more than a year now. I poached it from CK’s grandmother’s copious collection of cookbooks one sleepless night (along with that herbed fan roll recipe) and every once in a while I would see it and think I should make it and then I’d promptly forget and bake cookies or you know…have to pack my entire house and move yet again. Little things like that — ha ha. But I finally managed to get my act together last week and bring this stunning orange loaf to life.

I loved that the dough resembled pumpkin hued Play-Doh and while it sat quietly rising in my kitchen I really wanted to do something cool with it. The instructions said to braid the dough with a regular three-strand technique but I didn’t want to do that. How ho-hum can yo get? Then I remembered a video that Alejandra of Always Order Dessert created where she walked you through the step-by-step process of creating a six-strand braid.

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I literally watched the video six times before I tried it. Then I left it playing on a loop on my iPad while I braided my loaf. The proportions on one of my stands was a little off so I had to redo the braid once but on the second try I nailed it and thought it looked pretty spectacular. Of course, once it rose a second time it was absolutely enormous and this post should probably be renamed Roasted Red Pepper Bread: The Andre the Giant Experience.

The smell of this bread cooking is seriously scrumptious and you get to relive that scent each time you toast a slice for breakfast. Of course CK totally ruined it for me by saying that it smelled like Cheez-its. That took the persnickety wind right out of my sails and admittedly, he’s right, but it still smells good and it makes a mean grilled cheese. If you bake this bread you absolutely have to make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s the law. I mean it! Plus you can only eat so much toast.

Roasted Red Pepper Bread
Makes 1 Huge Loaf
Originally published in the Taste of Home Christmas Annual 2010 and slightly modified below.

1-1/2 cups roasted sweet red peppers, drained
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Place red peppers in a food processor; cover and process until pureed. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the red peppers, 1 cup cheese, milk, butter, salt and 1-1/2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Divide dough into six pieces. Then watch Alejandra’s video to learn how to create a six-stand bread braid. Place the braided dough on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine egg and water; brush over braids. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jess Mann February 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Holy Crap Erin! That’s bloody gorgeous!
And there you were asking to bake with me…
I made challah every thursday at the bakery in Salem, and it’s only a four strand braid, but I’d love to crank the difficulty level up and introduce a couple more strands. We’ll see what the peeps in charge have to say.
Your bread is stunning though. As good as anything I churn out here on the east coast.
LOVE!

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2 Erin February 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

Well this is the ultimate in high praise. Thank you for your terribly sweet words on my little experiment. I’d still like to bake with you preferably while watching old-school Kevin Smith movies and/or Bridget Jones’s Diary. xx

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3 Heather February 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm

This looks absolutely amazing!

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4 Deborah February 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

This is seriously gorgeous! And I can’t do my hair to save my life. Or my makeup. And I have a daughter, and I even struggle doing her hair. Maybe I should try out this bread – who knows? I may be better at braiding bread than hair!

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5 Shelby @ Lady Gouda February 27, 2012 at 7:13 am

Personally, I love the smell (and taste) of Cheez-Its, so even if this wasn’t already the most beautiful loaf of bread I’ve ever seen, I would totally bake this up just to experience that. SO beautiful. Now I want to see you do a “fishtail” braid with dough– something I have always wanted to be able to do with my own hair, but have never succeeded.

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6 Erin February 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

A fishtail braid! Ah! I feel an anxiety attack coming on just thinking about it. I think the dough strands would have to be much thinner to make that happen and I’d need a very good video. I always feel like most of the hair how-tos online are always for girls who actually can do things with their hair. I can barely get bobby pins to stay in ha ha

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7 Todd April 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

I like everything about this. It’s really fun (and sounds delicious), and probably classy enough to bring to something or give as a gift. I always like finding different flavors for my bread. thanks.

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8 Sonya April 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

So I made this bread and did it using the six-strand braid method..which is something I had never done before. It was both epric in flavor and in looks. I was jumping all over the place and grabbing anyone that I could to see my marvelous braid. The flavor is incredible and is hands down on my of my all time favorite flavors when it comes to bread. As my husband and I were eating it we both said how neat it would be to make this into a rainbow braid..so that ment roasting green and yellow peppers to make the other two loaves to go along with the red.

So..yep, I made 3 different loaves of the bread to make 3 rainbow colored breads..lol I roasted the green and yellow peppers,got all excited by the puree colors,grabbed my husband and away we went. We mixed and kneaded and waited and braided and baked. My heart sank when I realised the green and yellow colors didn’t come out. They were so faint :( When we sliced into it, you could barely make them out. However..it was so over the top good tasting that it didn’t matter. The green took on a jalapeno flavor almost and the parmesan cheese really came out. Im thinking adding in some green and yellow food dye might do the trick next time. Im hooked on the this recipe and the rainbow braid. You will get 3 huge loaves..so one to eat,one to share and one to freeze..or freeze both like we did because we’re stingy..lol

I know this was a long comment but thank you thank you, THANK YOU for the recipe. My family and I loved it. We ate it plain,with butter and with slices of cheese on it.

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