FIG PROSCUITTO BRAIDED BREAD
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 1.5 hours for proofing
Baking time: 45–55 minutes
For the bread dough:
1 envelope of active dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water
½ cup whole milk
1 large egg at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
For the fig & prosciutto layers:
½ cup fig jam or preserves
4–5 fresh figs (if available)
10 slices of prosciutto
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tbsp water
For the topping (optional):
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
2–3 tbsp honey
In a small bowl, whisk the lukewarm water and yeast together. Let stand for around 5 minutes until it starts to bubble, look thick and creamy.
In a large bowl, incorporate the flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add milk, egg and yeast and water mixture. Mix in the dry ingredients and melted butter. Knead for 4–5 minutes until dough forms.
Lightly grease a bowl and transfer dough. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in size. This should take around 1–1 ½ hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 350°F (325°F for convection ovens). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch the dough down and divide it into three equal-sized balls. Roll each ball into a log and line them up side by side onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pinch the top of the three log ends together. Begin to braid the loaf from left to right, tucking in dollops of fig jam, slices of prosciutto and slices of fresh figs as you continue down to the end of the braid. Pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf.
Allow the dough to proof for around 30 minutes.
Gently brush the egg wash over the top of the dough. Place the dough in the oven to bake for 40–50 minutes until dough is very dark golden brown. Once finished, remove the bread from the oven and let it cool. Drizzle honey and chopped toasted hazelnuts over the top immediately before serving.
Fresh bread is always best when eaten on the days it’s made, but it will keep for up to two days in a sealed container in the fridge.