Making bread is so many things. Therapeutic, impressive, aromatic, calming. Also very, very rewarding in a delicious way. I hope you're enjoying 2013, and that you take a bit of time out to relax, read a book and bake some bread. Maybe even this bread - a sweet bread perfect for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea or dessert.
Blackberry & Almond Braid
1/4 cup soy milk, slightly warmed
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (180ml) coconut milk
3/4 cup blackberry jam
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
Extra soy milk for brushing
1. In a large mixing bowl combine the warm soy milk, yeast and sugar and whisk together. Set aside for 10 minutes until the top gets frothy.
2. Add the flour, salt and coconut milk to the yeast mixture and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead it until it's smooth and elastic, which should take no less than 5 minutes, and as much as 10 minutes.
3. Return to the bowl and and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm spot to rise for 90 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Divide dough into three equal pieces and place on a floured benchtop. Roll each piece in a long thin strip about 45 cm long and about 6 cm wide (don't get a ruler out, just make them all long and thin and about the same length!).
5. Spread 1/4 cup jam and 1/3 cup chopped almonds along each piece, leaving about 2cm around the edge.
6. Fold the edges in on all three pieces and transfer to a large baking tray lines with greaseproof paper. Pinch them together at one end and braid the strands as tightly as you can (you're probably going to benefit from an extra pair of hands for this). Twist the strands a bit as you plait, to make the jam even more marbled through the bread.
7. Brush the top with soymilk and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through. The jam may spill out the sides a bit, don't worry.
8. Cool to room temperature and slice.
Makes 1 large loaf.