Better late than never, right? I made this Christmas tree tear-and-share for a Christmas party last month, then one thing led to another, and here we are in late January. I’ve been baking in the interim, but it’s been kind of a relief to make things without the pressure of having to present the result to anyone (except my husband – he benefits from proximity). Nevertheless, I’m getting back in the saddle, and I’ll be recreating some of what I liked best from the past month to share it with you!
This recipe is an illustration of the fact that you can make a tear-and-share loaf in any shape, with any filling (you can see previous iterations in my Monday Night’s Watch: Fiery Sun Loaves, Pizza and Cheesy Chorizo Tear & Share Loaves, and Smoked Gruyere & Prosciutto Tear-and-Share Loaf recipes). I went savory (big surprise) and decorated my tree with black Kalamata olives and green olives stuffed with pimentos, with extra sharp cheddar inside the loaf. You could easily go sweet, though, by omitting the savory spices from the dough recipe and replacing them with some sugar, cinnamon, cloves, or your festive seasoning of choice and filling the loaf with a jam or other sweet filling.
- 500g flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 1/4 tsp/7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Kalamata olives
- Green olives stuffed with pimento
- 200g extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and the garlic and chili powders. Make a well in the center and gradually pour in 350ml tepid water, stirring and mixing the water into the flour. If the mix is a little wet, stir in a bit of extra flour; if a little dry, add a bit more water. The dough should be soft but not too sticky.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is springy but smooth (or, if using a standing mixer, use the dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes). Put in a large floured bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (this will take 45 mins-1 hr).
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and divide in half. Roll out each half into a tall, Christmas-tree shaped triangle (aim for it to just fit in whatever pan you’re using) and place one onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cover the triangle in the pan with the cheese, then place the other triangle of dough on top. Using a pizza cutter, slice horizontally from the middle out (you want to leave a “trunk” in the middle) into even pieces (these will be the “branches” of your tree). Pick up the outside edge of each piece and twist it a few times.
- Cut some green olives in half and place them, pimento-side up, along the “trunk” of the tree in a vertical line. Cut enough black olives in half to be able to place one half on the end of each “branch.”
- Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
- Let cool on a rack for 15-30 minutes, then serve.
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