I do not, in any way, shape, or form, have my shit together for Christmas. We don’t have a single decoration up (and tbh we probably won’t), and I still feel like I have a zillion things to make recipe wise (probably won’t do that either), but I have a few things lined up for you between now and Christmas - starting with this mixed nut and dulce de leche brioche knot. I took my standard brioche dough, spiked it with some vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread it with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. I then rolled it up into a log, cut it lengthwise babka style, then twisted it into a swirly knot. The creamy caramel and crunchy nuts are perfect alongside the fluffy dough - this will give you a little Christmas in your life, even if you have zero of your shit together like me.
I love brioche because it is super versatile and this is no exception - you can make this all in one day, or you can make the dough the evening before and do the first rise in the fridge, in which case you can skip the step of chilling the dough when it is rolled up, as it should already be cold enough to work with.
A few wee tips:
I made my own Dulce de Leche by boiling a can of condensed milk. To make this, peel the wrapper off a can of condensed milk, and place it on its side in a large pot. Cover with water by at least 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the can for 3 hours, checking often to make sure the water is well above the level of the can, and topping up when necessary. Remove from the pot with tongs and allow to cool completely, then chill overnight. You can use store bought too if that is easier for you.
This is easier to braid than you think! All you do is cross one end over the other, and then tuck the ends under. You look super fancy, but it's super easy.
Depending on the weather the dough may need a teeny bit more liquid - add this a teaspoon at a time in the first kneading stage if it is having a hard time forming a soft dough.
If you can, don’t skip the toasting of the nuts - they really give them a great depth of flavour.
Mixed Nut and Dulce de Leche Brioche Knot
- Makes one brioche knot - serves about 8 -
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
200g (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g Pecan halves
65g Walnut halves
150g (1/2 cup)dulce de leche (see notes)
2 tsp flaky sea salt
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Flaky Sea salt to finish (optional)
- PROCESS -
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the muscovado sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Place the Pecans, Hazelnuts and Walnut halves on a sheet pan, and roast for 10 minutes, shaking the tray often. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then, if necessary, rub together the hazelnuts and discard the skin. Chop the nuts roughly and set aside.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 16" x 24" (40 x 60cm) rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the surface of the dough with the Dulce de Leche, and then sprinkle with the chopped nuts and flaky sea salt.
Starting from the long side of the dough, roll up the dough into a tight spiral. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, curving the sausage a little if needed. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Line a 9" cake tin, springform pan or skillet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, straighten out the chilled sausage of dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the sausage of dough in half lengthwise, leaving a small section approximately 1 1/2 inches long intact at one end. Turn the halves carefully so the filling is exposed. Cross the dough halves over each other, then repeat the process until you have a long, twisted piece of dough.
Cross one end of the twist over the other, and tuck the ends under, forming a knot. Gently shape into a round if needed (I found it easiest to practice with a rolled up tea towel at first). Transfer to your prepared baking sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until puffy. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.
Brush the knot with egg wash, and sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and baked throughout, and registering 200˚f / 95˚c. Tent with foil in the last 10 minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Reheat leftovers in microwave before eating.