Sunshine Wreath

April 29, 2020 Updated: April 29, 2020

The gray skies of New York City tend to linger into April. They blur the lines between those last interminable days of winter and the start of spring. The damp streets. The drab, melancholy buildings. The chill in the air. May is downpour season. Summer is taking too long. What to do? Bake a little sunshine before the best citrus is gone.

Serves 8

For the dough:

  • 1/3 cup warm whole milk (110 degrees F–115 degrees F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated orange zest (from 2 navel oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt

To finish:

  • 1 large egg, beaten

Prepare the dough: In a small bowl, combine the milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the remaining sugar, flour, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the yeast mixture, egg, and egg yolk and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, a bit at a time, and continue to knead the dough until the butter is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, another 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather the dough into a neat ball. Alternatively, mix together the ingredients in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon. Knead the dough, in the bowl, until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Then, knead in the butter pieces, a bit at a time, until incorporated. Tip out the dough onto a work surface and continue to knead until smooth but still sticky. Return the dough to the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. (After the dough has doubled, you can punch it down, wrap it well, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, using your fingers, grind the orange zest, lemon zest, and sugar together to release some of the citrus oils. Add the butter and the salt and mix until well combined.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into a 17 x 8-inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting from one of the long ends, roll up the dough into a tight coil. Pinch the ends to seal the roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise. Transfer the two pieces of dough, cut-side up, to a piece of parchment paper. Pinch the two pieces together at one end and then carefully twist the two pieces of dough together. Take care not to stretch the dough and to keep the cut sides up. Coil the twist around to make a wreath and connect the ends, making sure to continue the twisting pattern. Transfer the wreath, on the parchment, to a rimmed baking sheet.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise. It could take up to 2 hours for the wreath to puff, so it’s better to keep an eye on the dough rather than on the clock.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Carefully brush the wreath with the beaten egg. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t worry if it leaks a bit! It always does. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bread should register between 190 degrees and 200 degrees F. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This bread is best the day it’s made, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Warm leftovers before serving.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “The Joys of Baking,” copyright 2019 by Samantha Seneviratne, Running Press.