It’s now mid-March, and as I hope for spring, I realize that I didn’t take full advantage of winter’s cold weather. Why didn’t I bake more bread during the last few months? I love bread-making! Luckily, it’s not too late for me to bake, since March is just as likely to be cold (high of 39F today) as it is to be warm (high of 72F on Friday, just two days ago).
This weekend I decided to make an Overnight Citrus Ginger Ring. It is serendipitously flavored like spring, with bright flavors of lemon and ginger. I wasn’t sure that I would have a chance to get it started on Friday night, but I was able to leave work early, which gave me the extra time I needed in an evening otherwise not spent at home.
The basic process of making this ring: make dough one evening, and let rise 2-3 hours; shape dough with filling; refrigerate overnight; rise in steamy oven 30-60 minutes; bake. It’s not quick to make, but it’s not particularly difficult either. It just takes proper timing and a little planning ahead.
Early Friday evening, I combined 4 egg yolks, 1 egg, sugar, melted margarine, and buttermilk (technically 2 teaspoons lemon juice + 3/4 cup 1% milk) in my stand mixer. While I whisked those together, I weighed out my flour (1/2 cup whole wheat, plus enough all-purpose flour to weigh 20 ounces). I added half the flour, plus a packet of yeast, to the stand mixer; once the mixture was combined, I switched out the whisk for the dough hook. I added most of the remaining flour and let the machine knead the dough on low for about 5 minutes. I checked the dough, added a little more flour so that the dough wasn’t sticky, and kneaded it with the hook for another 5 minutes. Once the dough was ready, I put it in a greased bowl and covered it with plastic wrap.
Three hours later, the dough had doubled in bulk, so it was time to make the filling and shape the ring. I combined 1 cup sugar, 5 ounces flour, the zest of 2 lemons (mine were small, and I should have used 3), 2 tablespoons grated ginger (I had some stashed in the freezer), and 2 tablespoons candied ginger that I had leftover from fruitcake season. [I recommend saving the candied ginger to sprinkle on the filling on the dough, rather than mixing it into the filling.] I patted and rolled out the dough into a 12×24 inch rectangle. I brushed it with melted butter, and then patted on the filling all the way to the edges. I carefully rolled up the dough like you do cinnamon rolls. I skipped using the beaten egg and simply made sure the seam side was down. I shaped the roll into a ring and pinched together the ends, trying to make the ring seamless. I moved the ring to a lined pizza pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and stored it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I pulled the ring from the fridge and slashed it with a sharp knife every 2 inches. I placed the uncovered ring on the upper rack of the oven. I placed a baking pan on a lower rack and filled the empty pan with boiling water, and closed the ring up in the steamy oven. I left the ring in there for about an hour while I went for a run. The ring had risen some while I was gone, and so I removed everything from the oven so I could preheat it to 350F.
I baked the ring for 25 minutes, until it looked pretty done; I probably could have pulled it out at closer to 20-22 minutes. While it baked, I made the glaze. I combined 4 ounces apricot preserves, 1 ounce chopped candied ginger, and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan. I let the mixture simmer, stirring frequently, until it reduced. Since the preserves had bits of apricots in them, I blended the cooked glaze. I probably should have blended together the ingredients prior to cooking, because the cooked glaze was rather thick and sticky once blended. I brushed all of the glaze on the ring.
The ring was sticky to cut through, even with a sharp knife. I let it cool very briefly before cutting.
The bread was not dry, despite my concerns that I overbaked the ring. I enjoyed the lemony filling, and the glaze was particularly bright and gingery since I blended it. The entire ring was brightly flavored. The glaze was very sticky, which made serving a little difficult. Some of the filling toward the outside and top of the ring disappeared into the bread, so you didn’t get as much flavor toward the outside of the ring as you do on the inside.
This was pretty good, but there’s room for improvement. I’d consider adding lemon zest to the bread dough, so that you still have bright flavor if you happen to get a bite of bread that doesn’t have filling or glaze. I would probably increase the amount of both kinds of ginger (and maybe lemon zest) in the filling. I might cut and bake them like cinnamon rolls, and then drizzle the glaze over them that way.
This is a great alternative to cinnamon rolls if you don’t like cinnamon but still want a good, gooey breakfast bread. I bet it would be a great addition to an Easter brunch.