As much as I enjoy a slice of cake, I harbor a secret (ok not so secret) love for savory baking, and this loaf is the perfect example. It's all soft, fluffy white bread stuffed with spicy jalapeno cream cheese, breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs. The braid gives it that 'wow factor' for a weekend brunch but it's even better as a super-duper-crazy-easy week-day breakfast. Each slice is it's own breakfast sandwich.. no assembly required! You can bake the loaf on the weekend, then wrap it in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. The slices are sturdy enough to pack for breakfast on the go and they heat up within seconds in the microwave. Breakfast bread.. where have you been all my life?
The filling ingredients are totally flexible, feel free to change up the flavors according to your preference! I love stuffing it with scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, and a jalapeno cream cheese base. However, you can put bacon instead of sausage, throw some green and red peppers into the cream cheese, or add cheddar to your eggs as you cook them. As long as you spread a cream cheese base (of any flavor) and under-cook the eggs so they don't dry out in the oven, you can mix and match flavors with whatever you have on hand.
Regardless of what you do with the filling, the dough remains the same. It's a basic dough enriched with some melted Stirling butter for a bit of extra flavor. Easy to put together, bakes up soft and fluffy, and yet remains sturdy enough to hold the filling together without getting crumbly or soggy - perfect!
You can mix up the dough and do the whole recipe in one day, or - if you're like me and want the bread in time for breakfast but don't want to get up early - you can prepare the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight.
That way you can lay in bed for an extra hour (or two), pull the dough out and roll it into a rectangle and it will come to room temp as you prepare the filling for the loaf. More sleep, less waiting time, and fresh bread for breakfast.. so much winning.
The loaf might look fancy, but it's easy to put together.
The dough is rolled into a rectangle and divided into three equal sections. The center section gets spread with the jalapeno cream cheese leaving a two inch border at the top and the bottom.The sliced breakfast sausage is pressed into the cream cheese and it's crowned with a pile of golden scrambled eggs.
No need to worry if you don't posses any braiding skills, The pattern is actually a mock-braid made by crossing the flaps across each other. First the triangle shaped flaps on each of the ends get folded in, then the top and bottom flaps fold to cover those and seal in the filling.
Next you alternate crossing the strips of dough over the loaf until you reach the end and voila! A braided loaf without having to create a single braid. If you can't visualize the strips criss-cossing then check out this photo of my braided lemon loaf. (Old and ugly photo, but it gets the job done)
Brushing the loaf with a beaten egg before putting it in the oven makes it bake up all golden and glossy. As someone who stays as pale as possible on purpose, I'm forced to live vicariously through my bread's tanning abilities. All of the golden glow, none of the wrinkles.
You can slice it up as thick or thin as you want and each piece will still be a delicious spicy, cheesy, sausage-and-egg stuffed breakfast sandwich. The pieces are so sturdy and portable (especially when cold) so you can cut off whatever size piece you want, and throw it in a ziplock bag to heat up at school or in the office for a super quick breakfast. Breakfast on the go will never be the same!
Braided Stuffed Breakfast Bread
The dough recipe makes enough for one stuffed loaf and one regular 'ol loaf of white bread for all your slicing, sandwiching, and toasting needs
1 cup warm water
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons liquid honey
2½ tablespoons Stirling Unsalted butter, melted
2¼ teaspoons salt
¼ cup warm water
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
5 cups (740g) bread flour
1 cup (148g) bread flour
4 eggs, whisked with a splash of milk
salt and pepper
6 breakfast sausages
2/3 block of plain cream cheese at room temp
1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds before dicing for a mild version)
2 - 3 TBSP milk
1 egg, beaten (to brush the loaf with)
1. Combine the water, milk, honey, oil and salt in a bowl, and stir to help dissolve the honey. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the ¼ cup warm water and yeast. Let sit for two minutes.
3. Add the five cups of flour to the mixer bowl with the yeast in it. Then pour the milk mixture on top. Add the remaining cup of flour and stir on low with the paddle attachment. Once a shaggy dough has formed switch to the dough hook and knead for 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Check your mixer’s manual for the correct speed to use with your dough hook (most are speed 2). Remove the dough from the bowl and lightly grease the bowl with canola oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
4. Allow the dough to rise either at room temp for one hour or in the fridge overnight. If rising in the fridge overnight, remove half of the dough in the morning to bring to room temp before preparing the filling. If rising at room temp, prepare the filling while the dough rises.
5.Prepare the filling: Season the eggs with salt and pepper and scramble over medium heat until cooked but still quite moist. Be careful not to fully cook the eggs so they do not dry out while baking in the loaf. Cook the breakfast sausages according to the package directions, then cut into half inch slices. Stir together the chopped jalapeno, cream cheese, and enough milk to make it smooth and spreadable. Allow the fillings to cool to room temp or just warm-ish before adding to the dough.
6. Punch down the dough and roll out into a 10" by 15" rectangle on a well floured surface. Transfer the rectangle to a square of parchment paper (this is IMPORTANT. You need to do this so that you can move the assembled loaf onto a baking trap). Press two lines into the dough dividing it into three equal sections.
7.Spread the jalapeno cream cheese on the middle section leaving the top and bottom two inches free. Press the breakfast sausages into the filling and top with the eggs.
8. Cut strips one inch apart on the two outside sections. Fold the top and bottom middle flaps in. Then begin crossing the one inch strips alternatively to make the mock braid. Preheat the oven to 375
9. Allow the loaf to rise for 35 - 45 minutes or until puffy. Gently brush the whole loaf with the beaten egg and then bake at 375 for 25- 35 minutes until golden brown . Allow the loaf to cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving
To store, cool the loaf completely at room temp then wrap with plastic wrap and place in a large ziplock bag. Chill in the fridge for up to four days.
Baking the remaining dough:
Roll the remaining piece of dough into a rectangle (about 7 inches by 14 inches), then roll up to form a loaf. Place seam side down in a well greased 9x5 loaf pan (grease your pans thoroughly! Nothing is sadder than bread stuck to the pan). Brush lightly with a small amount of oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough has domed an inch or two over the rim (1 to1½ hrs)
Preheat oven to 350
Once the loaf is doming 1 to 2 inches over the rim, bake at 350 (regular, not convection) for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes rotate the pan and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes (40 to 45 minutes total). If the loaf is getting too dark on top then use a piece of foil with a crease in it to cover the top of the bread.
Remove loaves from oven. Remove from loaf pans and set on a cooling rack. Wait until loaves are completely cool (40 minutes to 1 hour) before slicing to allow the crumb to set properly.