February is the month for love and lovers. Did you know that in many parts of Europe, there is an ancient tradition of giving Lover’s Bread?
These gingerbreads were heart-shaped and extravagantly decorated with colored spun-sugar flowers. As the tradition goes, once the gingerbreads were given, the heart was bespoken and the young man who ate them with the woman who represented his heart’s desire was committed for life. This sort of gift disappeared from France around the time of the First World War but in other European countries, the tradition still exists.
Source: The History of Bread by Bernard Dupaigne
For Valentine’s Day, I decided to recreate this old tradition and give the gift of bread to my Sweetie. Rather than trying to make an elaborate gingerbread heart, I chose this beautiful Lacy Valentine Bread Heart. It’s made with enriched dough, filled with chopped cherries and slivered almonds and glazed with a delicious almond glaze.
Valentine Bread with Cherries and Almonds
Source: Recipe Courtesy © 2010 ACH Foods. All Rights Reserved.
Makes: 2 coffee cakes
- 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110oF)
- 2 envelopes Active Dry Yeast
- 1/2 cup warm milk (100 to 110oF)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds, toasted
Almond Glaze: In small bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted; 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; and 2 to 3 tablespoons milk. Stir until smooth.
Place warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add warm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, salt, and 1-1/2 cups flour; blend well. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Pat maraschino cherries between paper towels to remove excess moisture. In medium bowl, combine maraschino cherries, almonds, and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll 1 half to 24 x 7-inch oval. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter; brush half over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges.
Sprinkle half of cherry mixture over dough.
Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll.
Pinch seam to seal;
gently roll back and forth to stretch to 26-inch rope. Place, seam side down, on greased baking sheet.
Form into ring; pinch ends together to seal. Shape into heart.
With sharp knife (I did this with scissors), cut slits, starting at outside edge of heart, two-thirds of the way through dough at 3/4-inch intervals. Turn each section on its side to show filling. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Frost with Almond Glaze.
Then decorate and give the bread to your Sweetheart and watch him or her smile. I added some candied hearts because I like them. :o)
Instead of making two heart coffee cakes, I used the rest of the dough to make sweet rolls (buns actually) for my other two sweeties (aka my sons). The buns were really good, but I didn’t get a photo.
Thanks for joining me today in the bread-baking blog. I hope you enjoyed your bread experience.
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