A good bread is my weakness. Stuffed bread is like kryptonite–this includes monkeybread, which isn’t technically stuffed, per se, but there is all sorts of buttery goodness tucked between the individual pieces of bread that are thrown into the bread pan, so that’s sort of like stuffed, right?
I made a similar version of this bread ring a couple of weeks ago and took 1 of them to work because Hubby was out of town that week and there was no way I needed to eat 2 bread rings all by myself! That version used butternut squash puree instead of sweet potato, and I stuffed it with some leftover cranberry-apple chutney I stuck in the freezer after Thanksgiving. It was gone by lunch, so it appears to have gone over well with the work populous. I rather liked it myself, so I was glad to see it disappear so quickly. It will mostly likely return to my table again this fall for the holidays.
Remember those sweet potatoes I cooked in my solar oven a while back? Well, this is where one of them ended up. I had some leftover ricotta from lasagna night, half a container of blue cheese, and that got me thinking about another stuffed bread ring. I love blue cheese and balsamic vinegar caramelized onions, and I thought they would pair well with the sweet potato bread. If I do anything differently in the future, I would add a few more onions because Hubby and I love onions and I just felt like I couldn’t get enough of them–adapt the amount to suit your tastes.
These nice, flaky layers developed in the ring that were nothing other than yummy.
Sweet potato bread ring with ricotta, blue cheese, and balsamic onions
7 to 7 ½ cups flour
¾ cup brown sugar (do not pack)
4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup cooked sweet potato (or pumpkin) puree
Combine 7 cups of flour, brown sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it reaches 120 to 130 degrees F. Pour the milk and butter over the flour mixture and turn the stand mixer on low. Slowly increase the speed to medium and mix for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and add the sweet potato puree and eggs. Turn mixer on again and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add additional flour, as needed, until mixture becomes a soft dough. Mine looked this:
The dough will be very soft and sticky. Don’t worry. Once it rises, it will form a lovely dough and roll out into a beautiful rectangle for stuffing with goodies.
Scrape dough from mixing bowl and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
While dough is rising, prepare cheese mixture and onions.
Cheese mixture for 1 bread ring:
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup blue cheese
2 tablespoons chives or other herbs of your choice
2 tablespoons milk
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside until dough is prepared. To prepare the onions (for 1 bread ring), heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ½ cup sliced onions to the skillet and cook onions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low, add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and cover the skillet with a lid. Continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions begin to caramelize and darken. Remove from heat and cool.
When dough has doubled in size, divide it into 2 pieces. You will only use 1/2 of the dough. At this point the dough may be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 24 hours.
Turn out one piece of the dough on a well-floured surface. Spray a rolling pin with cooking spray and roll the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 16 inches by 20 inches. The dough will be about ¼ inch thick. Spread the dough with the cheese mixture, cover with onions, and roll dough—along the long edge—into a log.
Bring the ends together to form a ring, then carefully place the dough ring on a greased baking sheet. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut notches along the ring, like this:
The thing I love about this bread ring is how simple it is to make. It looks beautiful, and therefore you would assume it’s complicated to construct, but it’s not at all. If you can roll a piece of paper into a tube, you can make this bread.
Brush the top of the ring with a little bit of milk. Allow to sit and rise again for about 20 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.