Feta Dill Bread Braid

April 29, 2010 · 27 comments

filed in: Bakery,Dairy,Side Dishes,Vegetarian/Vegetarian Option

Feta Dill Bread Braid

Garlic bread, a twice baked bread typically made with store-bought baguettes, is an ever popular side dish at mealtime, but then so too is home baked bread, straight from the oven. As both a committed bread baker and garlic bread devotee, I often find myself puzzling out how to incorporate the bold taste we associate with garlic bread into my homemade bread so that it becomes more of a key player on the dinner table stage. Filled breads — flavored with various combinations of cheeses, herbs, and garlic — are one way I get more oomph in the dinner-time bread I make.

This recipe features the Mediterranean flavors of feta cheese, fresh dill weed from the garden, garlic, and optional black olives as a filling for an attractive bread braid that works well as a companion for a simple soup and/or salad dinner. Instructions for homemade brown bread dough, which I use here, are provided in this recipe; however, frozen prepared bread dough may also be conveniently substituted by time-pressed readers. Simply bring the prepared dough to room temperature according to the package instructions and begin with Step 2 below.

ingredients

For the bread:

1 1/2 cups warm (100-110 degrees F.) water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the filling:

1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill weed
2 tablespoon melted butter
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 egg
(Optional) 1/4 cup pitted and drained black olives
1 tablespoon poppy, sesame, or flax seeds

preparation

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and yeast and set aside for approximately 2 minutes until the yeast is fully dissolved. Add the sugar, salt, oil, and 2 cups flour. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth. Add the remaining flour and, using a bread hook attachment, mix for approximately 3 additional minutes until the dough forms a smooth, elastic ball. Turn the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in bulk.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the feta cheese, ricotta (or cottage) cheese, fresh dill weed, melted butter, garlic, optional olives (if used), and egg until well blended. Set aside.
  3. Punch down the bread dough. Sprinkle flour on a smooth work surface and roll the bread dough to an approximately 10″ by 24″ rectangle, sprinkling additional flour on the dough as needed to avoid stickiness. Cut the dough into two 10″ by 12″ rectangles, as shown in the photo above.
  4. For each dough rectangle and with a narrow side toward you, spoon the prepared filling in a narrow vertical strip down the center of the dough, as shown in the photo above. Using a knife, cut the dough into a 3″ “fringe” on both sides of the filling, as shown in the photo above. Starting from the top, alternately cross the opposing left and right fringes over each other until the bread is fully braided. Tuck in the ends. Sprinkle the poppy, sesame, or flax seeds over the top of each braid. Place both on a large oiled baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and set aside in a warm place until nearly doubled in bulk, which, depending on the temperature and your altitude, may be from 30-60 minutes.
  5. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 380 degrees F. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the bread is nicely browned. If you prefer your bread to be very crusty, as I do, place a heatproof pan of boiling water in the oven during the baking period. Makes two bread braids.

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{ 26 Comments...read them below or add one }

sara April 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Has anyone tried freezing the extra braid for a later date? This looks amazing!

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Barbara April 16, 2014 at 7:18 pm

I’ve had good results freezing this bread for later use, preferably within a month or less. Just make sure you seal it in a plastic bag first.

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canihavesomemoremum May 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for the wonderful recipe. i made it a few days ago and it turned out really well.

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Barbara May 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Many thanks and I’m glad it worked out well for you. I see you put the recipe on your website.

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Stephanie May 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

OMG! This looks delicious! And you did a fabulous job with the braid, the whole thing looks beautiful! And most importantly, YUMMY! I’ll have to make this tonight for dinner!

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Kaitlin May 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

This looks beautiful and sounds absolutely delicious!

My best friend is always giving me crap for not just baking plain bread (I do it… sometimes…) since he’s a self-proclaimed “purist,” but I’d really like to see him try to deny this!

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Joanne May 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

This bread looks delicious, especially with that lovely braid! I would want to eat it as a main course rather than a side dish.

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M. May 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Beautifully braided….looks delicious.

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Memoria May 1, 2010 at 1:09 am

Oh, I made a braid like this a few weeks ago!! Your braid is absolutely lovely and perfect! Good job!

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Barbara May 1, 2010 at 6:52 am

Thanks for your kind comment and also your tip. I LOVE Danish pastry — witness my last recipe for Blueberry Cheese Danish Cake — and your lemon-lime Danish braid looks sensational. Definitely on my list of to-do recipes.

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Cookin' Canuck April 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm

This is so pretty – what perfect work you did! I love the flavors of dill and feta that you used.

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Juliana April 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Wow, what a nice looking loaf of bread…love the filling and thanks for the pictures. Will definitely try to make!

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megan April 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Looks like my kind of bread! Bet that would cost a whole lot of cash at the store. Thumbs up!

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Winnie April 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

That is so beautiful!!! And I bet it’s really delicious too. I really LOVE your posts … I stumbled you, too.

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Mags April 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

That’s a work of art! Stunning bread and looks positively delicious!

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Barbara May 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Thanks, Mags. The backdrop for the photo is a wooden window shutter, chiseled and painted, that I found in Zambia. It’s one of my favorite things, my idea of a “work of art,” and its grooves so reminded me of the bread that I used it here.

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roxan April 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Beautiful. Thank you for the picture on the braiding technique. That makes it almost seem easy!

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Amanda April 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

THAT is a work of art! How stunning Barbara! I have bookmarked it, not only is it gorgeous but the flavors sound amazing!

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5 star foodie April 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm

What a beautiful bread! And wonderful flavors with feta and dill!

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deeba April 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm

My jaw just dropped to the ground…isn’t that just the most wonderfully done bread in the world. NEAT and beautiful Barbara. It’s lovely!

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Honeyb April 29, 2010 at 11:29 am

I am sure this would go over very well with me! I need to attempt to do a braided bread, looks like fun (or frustration! lol) to me!

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Barbara April 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Many thanks. Braiding bread is easy, but braiding my own hair? Now that’s hard!

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sippitysup April 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

That braid job is so beautiful! GREG

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Suzanne Collier April 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

Oh Barbara! This is absolutely beautiful! I am in the process of trying to “master” bread. I became a bit frustrated with my proofing and the last loaf was a total disaster. I figured out that there is no where in my house to just let the bread rise. I have to do a make-shift steam pot and try to keep the temp regulated so that it doesn’t get too hot, but yet still rises. It’s a fine line for me. We desperately need a new oven, so my husband and I are ordering a new oven that has proofing capabilities, so hopefully that will instill some confidence. Can’t wait to try this recipe! In the meantime, I may try the store-bought stuff. Love the combination of flavors in this!

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Barbara April 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Bread baking is simply easier at high altitude, where it puffs up in a flash. Now that I’m living at sea level again in FL, and regardless of the actual room temperature, the rising time of my bread is much slower than when I lived at altitude in Colorado, Kenya, South Africa, etc.

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Arnold April 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

I like things that are different from the rest. The braiding looks so interesting and the combination of ingredients also suggest a great taste, especially if you include those olives. I will just have to give this a try.

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