Spinach raisin spiral bread

Spinach spiral bread

Wouldn’t it be nice to stuff everything you love in a spiral of rich pastry, so you can peel apart the layers and discover it as you go along?

Let’s see…there are several advantages to baking things in spiral rolls/bread/cookies. 1) they’re superlatively fun to eat. 2) the flavors are nicely distributed in lovely layers 3) You generally have a nice contrast of mild taste and texture with more intense fillings, which is really what it’s all about!

This bread pits a rich sort of herbed dough against a tasty filling of spinach, garlic, mozzarella and goat cheese with just a touch of sweetness from the raisins. And everybody’s a winner!

I dreamed this up whilst standing on a slope of snow. My little ones were red-cheeked, hot, and happy, flying down, climbing back up, flying down again. My toes were so cold I thought they’d never move again. Baking this warmed me right up!

Here’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Two Little Fishes and Five Loaves of Bread. I didn’t actually make 5 loaves, of course, and I’ll certainly never eat 2 little fishes, being a vegetarian, but it’s a killer song!

For the dough…

1 t. yeast
1/4 cup warm milk
1 t. sugar
1 t. rosemary well-chopped
1/2 t thyme
4 T butter, very soft
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 cup milk soured with 1 t. balsamic

Mix the yeast, milk and sugar. Set aside to get bubbly.

In a large bowl combine the flour, herbs, salt and baking powder. Make a well in the center and dump in the egg, yeast and milk. Mix everything together with your hands to make a nice workable dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes till it’s all smooth and elastic. Coat lightly with oil or melted butter. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it aside somewhere warm to rise for an hour and a half. Punch it down, and leave it for another half hour. Then roll it out to be about 11″ X 15″ by 1/4 inch thick. Let that sit for a minute while you prepare the filling.

For the filling…

1 T olive oil
6 oz spinach – rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins, soaked in a little water
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t. basil
1 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup goat’s cheese
salt/pepper

In a small saucepan warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and basil and cook for a minute or two. THen add the raisins and spinach. Cook till the spinach is soft and wilted and the pan is quite dry. Process the raisins and spinach for a minute or two till it’s well chopped but not pureed.

Tip the spinach into a bowl. Stir in the cheeses and season for salt and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE…

Spread the spinach cheese mixture evenly over the dough. Roll it up short side first. Tuck the ends under, and place the whole thing seam side down in a loaf pan. Brush with egg if you want it to be shiny.

Place in a preheated 400 degree oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, till it’s well-risen and toasty brown on top. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before you try to slice it.

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