Sunday, July 01, 2012

Braided Ham & Swiss Bread

This makes a great snack, appetizer or starter. (My kids like it for an after-school-snack if we'll be eating a late dinner later.) But, it's equally as great as a stand-in for regular grilled cheese alongside tomato or your favorite soup. My four-year old, Ayvah, has fun helping me "braid" the dough and stuff the ham and swiss in the little "pockets" while making this (her little hands make an appearance within one of the photos below!). 

Now, I am NOT usually a skilled baker. So, I buy store-bought, frozen bread dough for this. But, if you are a good baker (I applaud you!), by all means start with homemade bread dough.


Allow the store-bought, frozen dough to thaw in the fridge overnight. If you're using homemade, you don't need to do this step. Place dough on a floured countertop. 

Then, roll out the dough to about 5 inches wide and as long as a baking sheet. If your dough is cold, you may want to let it rest for a bit on the counter to "loosen up."

Make three long cuts in the dough ... all the way to the end on one end, but do not cut all the way to the end of the other end.

Carefully transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet coated with non-stick spray.

Cut up about 1/4 pound of shaved deli ham.

Do the same with 4 - 5 slices of deli swiss cheese. (You could use shredded swiss, as well. You'd need about a 1 - 1 1/2 cups.)

Make a braid out of the dough ... starting with the end that is not cut all the way. Braid the dough strips just as you'd braid hair ... just a lot "looser." Then, in the little "pockets" of the braid, stuff the ham and swiss in tightly. It probably won't all fit and some will remain on the top of the braid. That's fine. If some falls onto the foil, don't panic. That will just allow for those yummy, crusty bits of browned ham and cheese in the finished product. 

Here's a close-up:

Allow to rise in a warm spot for about an hour. (I set my oven to 200º and sit the pan on the stove top.) Brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water). Then, bake at 325º for 20 - 25 minutes. When out of oven, brush with garlic butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Slice and serve.


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