This ring-shaped bread, made during Semana Santa (Holy Week), symbolises eternal life.
- 200 ml milk, warmed
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 675 g plain flour
- 2 x 7 g yeast sachets (4 tsp)
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 115 g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
- 12 glacé cherries
- Pearl sugar*, to scatter
Vanilla pastry cream
- 300 ml milk
- 1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 75 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 35 g (¼ cup) cornflour
- 20 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 4 hours
To make yeast starter, place 100 ml milk and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 60 g flour and 1½ tsp yeast and stir to form a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until risen and foamy.
Combine remaining 615 g flour, 90 g sugar and 1 tsp salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre. Place remaining 100 ml milk and 2½ tsp yeast in a bowl and stir to combine. Add lemon zest, vanilla, 2 eggs, butter and yeast starter to dry ingredients, then gradually add milk mixture and knead for 7 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
Meanwhile, to make pastry cream, place milk and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium–low heat and bring almost to a simmer. Whisk sugar, egg yolks, cornflour and flour in a bowl until combined. Add a little of the milk mixture and whisk to combine. Whisking continuously, add remaining milk mixture in a thin, steady stream until combined. Return mixture to pan over low heat and cook, whisking, for 4 minutes or until mixture is thick, smooth and comes to a simmer. Transfer to a bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
Punch down dough, form into a ball and shape into a 26 cm round. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Using your fingers, make a 7 cm hole in the centre to form a ring and place a small ovenproof dish or a ball of foil in the hole. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Whisk pastry cream until smooth and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm round nozzle. Pipe pastry cream on top of the dough ring in a circle, reserving some to serve. Brush dough with remaining egg, avoiding pastry cream, scatter with cherries and pearl sugar, and bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, to make glaze, place jam, sugar and 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until jam is melted and mixture is a glaze consistency. Brush bread with glaze and serve with extra pastry cream, if desired.
• Pearl sugar, also known as nib sugar, is available from specialty food shops. The course, opaque grains retain their shape at typical baking temperatures.
Photography Derek Swalwell
As seen in Feast magazine, May 2014, Issue 31. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.