Sugared Holiday Bread
You could head to your local bakery for a delicious holiday treat, but you won’t find Erin McDowell’s sugared holiday bread in the case. It’s so one-of-a-kind that you’ll have to make it at home.
“This is actually a recipe invented by accident from another yeasted bread,” McDowell tells us. “Basically, the dough was way too soft when I made it, but I didn’t want to waste it, so I poured it into a pan anyway and covered it with course, crunchy pearl sugar. I loved it so much when it came out of the oven. It was really light and fluffy like a cake, but definitely tasted like a buttery, yeasty brioche bread.”
Thankfully, it’s much easier to make than brioche. “It’s such a soft dough that you can’t even shape it,” McDowell continues. “You just pour it into a pan. I liked the pearl sugar crust so much that I decided to line the whole pan with it so that it caramelizes on the outside of the bread as it bakes.” FYI, you can also use sanding sugar, which is more readily available, but the light, crunchy pearl sugar makes this extra special.
“It would be great for breakfast, as toast or an alternative to cinnamon-raisin bread, or just eaten on its own as a special holiday snack,” she says.
If you end up with leftovers, it would also make a mean French toast. But that’s unlikely.
3½ cups (448g) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (47g) nonfat dry milk
⅓ cup (67g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (226g) warm water
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pearl sugar or sanding sugar, as needed
Egg wash, as needed
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, dry milk, sugar, yeast, salt, water, butter, egg and vanilla; mix on low speed until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 4 minutes more.
2. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
3. While the dough rises, prepare the pan. Grease a loaf pan with the unsalted butter (I like to use a 9-inch Pullman or tall pan, but a classic 9-by-5-inch loaf pan works too). Try to coat all the sides evenly and use all the butter. Sprinkle pearl (or sanding) sugar all over the loaf pan—the goal is to coat it as completely as possible.
4. When the dough has risen, pour or scrape it into the prepared pan (the dough will be very soft). Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has risen just above the top edge of the pan, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic from the surface of the dough. Egg wash the bread and sprinkle generously with more pearl (or sanding) sugar.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake until the loaf is deeply golden (it should have an internal temperature of 200°F). Cool for 15 minutes inside the loaf pan, then gently unmold to a cooling rack to cool completely.