Shakespeare in his play The Twelfth Night said “if music be the food of love, play on”; well I would like to interchange music and food and say “if food be the music of love, play on” and here is why?
This gorgoues braided bread just makes me fall in love. Have you ever had anything so scrumptious that you just find yourself lost for words, and not only just lost for words, you find yourself at a loss for expression also. At that moment all you feel like doing is just closing your eyes and enjoying each chew of that luscious bite of that indescribable food. Well, this is exactly that. Hans Christian Andersen said “when words fail, music plays on”, and I think I know what he meant, because the moment this came out of my oven, I could smell the deliciousness of this beautiful bread and the minute I took a bite, literally, I could hear the fat lady singing all around me. The taste speaks volume in itself and besides that, it just looks so pretty, tempting me with its good looks, I find myself heart broken while cutting into it. I admit, it does take a bit of a time to make this because with any perfect dough it has to be set to rise for at least 1 to 2 hours, but it takes only seconds to finish. At my dinner table, this chicken bread is the first to go every time.
In all seriousness though, this is one of those recipes that can’t be credited to just any one person. There is an ocean of breads out there and more or less all of them are siblings or offsprings of one another. This braided freckled bread base is very much similar to a pizza base; the only difference with this bread base is the egg which a pizza dough does not have and it just melts in your mouth when you eat it. So, I cannot say, I concocted this dough recipe, honestly, that would be a bluff. However, the intriguing truth is the filling. You can be as creative, as innovative, as imaginative as you like, be it meaty, or veggie or cheesy, it is totally upto you how you fancy your filling.
I would warn you though, if you are sluggish of exercise, you might want to stay away from this, as it is one of the bestest friend of your behind; you know, “a moment on the lip, forever on the hip” until and unless you are on your dieters “go crazy day” where you are treating yourself for the whole week, and let me warn you furthermore, this is so beguilingly inviting with its perfect braid perfectly crisp and perfectly tanned, you simply can’t hold yourself back and certainly not after one piece, you just have to, have to, have another. So if you are someone who is counting calories, you need to stop counting and give yourself a dieters frenzy and just have a piece. You won’t regret it I promise.
So, few things I want to share before I move onto the recipe; with the base, here is one simple rule, be very gentle. One thing I always make sure of doing when I am making mine and be it any dough, if you want to make your bread base soft and that it melts in your mouth, always knead it with warm liquids. I never knead my bread base with only luke warm water, instead, if I require for example 1 cup of water for kneading, then I use half a cup of Luke warm water and half a cup of Luke warm milk. I find that milk tends to make the dough softer. Also, the dough has to be on a stickier side with this recipe. You need to make sure, your dough is not hard or rough once you’ve done kneading. Of course, the way to check if your dough is right is to press it with your finger and it will bounce back, but, you also need to check it’s not too dry. Keep it somewhat on the stickier side and then let sit in a bowl, covered in a warm place to rise.
Now, let’s chit chat about the filling. Like I mentioned before, go crazy. It’s your filling, let loose your inner child and be as imaginative as you can possibly be. Firstly, the chicken I used, I boiled it with a little salt, red chilli flakes and ginger garlic paste before adding to the cheesy white sauce. Secondly, I have seen a lot of chicken bread recipes and the lot of those carry one thing in common, mozzarella, and lots of it. Okay! So, no, me, I fancy something different; Smoked cheese. I don’t know, there is just something so piquant about it, something so flavourably mesmerising (oh my! Before I loose myself in the thoughts of my delectable smoked cheese, let’s move on quick, which may I add, reminds me, I have a pack of mini smoked cheese cubes in my fridge as I am writing this and am stoping myself from getting up and having one) So yeah, You can use any cheese you desire, there is a whole other world of cheeses out there, go creative.
Okay, moving on guys, the layout of the base is pretty simple, roll it out gently in a rectangular shape and spread the filling in between. Take a pair of scissors or a pizza cutter and cut diagnolly along the sides and braid it one on top of the other. My daughter never lets me braid her hair but this, this I can braid as and how I want to without having to listen to any fussing and moaning.
Oh! Here is another tip for you to make it easier, after you have rolled it out, roll then the bread on the roller pin, have a baking paper ready and roll it back over onto the sheet. This way, after you have filled it and braided it you won’t need to pick it up with your hand to transfer it to the baking tray and all you will need to do is just slide the sheet onto the tray without messing up the shape of the bread. Simple enough. The reason I mention this is because I used to do that myself and then I had to reshape the bread once I put it onto the baking tray and let me tell you, many a times, my bread got badly mishapened because of it. So make your life easier, there are enough worries as it is.
Once it’s braided and set, it needs a wash and dressing up and a little bit of relaxing time; respectively, an egg wash and a drizzle of white sesame seeds and let sit and rest 15 minutes before it bakes.
It already looks so pretty before going in for a tan, doesn’t it?
Other story, as you eat this, that warm emanating cheesy filling with that succulent melt in your mouth bread and the sound of that crunchy top; it is as if a delightfully delicious languor engulfs you. You are just lost for words and lost of expressions, and don’t even get me started on that redolence; my 8 year old smells it all the way in his room before hurrying downstairs to have a bite. It’s absolutely divine.
And hence the final outcome, a gorgeous braided smoked cheese chicken bread, voilá!
This recipe will make two baked breads. Here is what you need:
– Base –
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
- Mix the dry ingredients first. Make a well in the middle and knead in the liquids. Set aside once kneaded for at least 2 hours.
– Filling –
1 brown onion chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp all-spice
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 green chilli chopped
2 cups boiled and shredded chicken (please read the blog for the method I mentioned)
Half bunch coriander or parsley (I prefer coriander)
1/2 cup smoked cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
Sauté the onions in butter and add the flour. Cook stir for 1 to 2 minutes and add the milk gradually and stir to incorporate everything together and there are no lumps. Add salt, pepper, paprika, soy sauce, all- spice, green chillies, coriander and let it come to a simmer. Once it’s simmering and the sauce starts getting thick, add the cheeses and ketchup. As soon as it thickens, it’s done, take it off the flame. Let the mixture cool completely before filling the bread.
Fill, braid, egg wash and dress, and bake in a 180* oven for 14-16 minutes. Turn the tray half way to cook evenly coloured all over.
Once baked, let rest, covered with a clean cloth for 15 minutes before cutting into it. If you cut a hot freshly baked chicken bread, it will fall apart. So be a little patient with it.