Criss-Cross Bread

The past six weeks have been a mental marathon. You think you’re done after the SAT, but then you get to the MCAT and it’s like alright, alright now I can finally be done with standardized testing but hehe joke’s on you. Today I finished STEP1 my first “board exam” of medical school and while I was sitting at the testing center anxiously waiting to be checked in, I overhear two family medicine residents talking about their first second third 😮 9-hour exam for residency… Sooo standardized testing is still clearly in my crystal ball, but life goes on! To celebrate, I was planning to watch Infinity Wars but the theater was sold out. Womp. (Well technically the 11pm showing still had tickets but my bedtime for the past six weeks has been 10:30pm…) It was a bummer till I realized I hadn’t even seen Thor: Ragnarok yet! That scene with Hulk on the rainbow bridge 😂 I haven’t laughed so much in a movie in a while; it was awesome. A home movie followed promptly by supermoon ice cream turned out to be the perfect post-exam decompressor.

So where does this recipe fit in?? Well the last week of my six week dedicated studying period was spent at home. So much gratitude to my parents for keeping me well-fed and supported ☺️. My mom brought home a squash from a coworker, combined with the fact that I needed to do something with my hands rather than stare at a computer screen taking practice questions all day, and thus this recipe arose 😉. It’s actually based off of a friend’s mom’s friend’s recipe which uses red bean paste instead of squash, so you can definitely get creative with the filling. With summer coming up, it may be bikini season for some, but more like bread season for me.


Criss-Cross Bread

Makes 2 large loavesIMG_5067.JPG

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 720g (6 cups) flour
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 2 eggs (1 egg white for brushing)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast

For the filling

  • 1 large squash
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, broken up by hand

Directions

To make the dough: In a small bowl, combine the milk and yeast; let this mixture sit for a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (save 1 egg white for brushing), pour in the yeast mixture, and stir with chopsticks till a shaggy dough comes together. Knead the dough for a good 5 minutes till soft and elastic (add a bit of water if needed). Leave the dough in the bowl covered with a cloth and wait for it to rise at room temperature for 2 hours or till it has doubled in size.

IMG_5071.JPG

To make the filling: Cut the squash into chunks, removing the skin and seeds. Steam for 10 minutes or until soft. In a large bowl, smash the squash with a fork till smooth. Transfer the squash to a stovetop pan and cook on medium heat with coconut oil and brown sugar for 5 minutes to remove excess moisture and create a more paste-like texture. Set aside and let cool.

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To put it all together: Divide the dough in half and roll both pieces out into rectangles. Spread the squash filling down the midline of each piece of dough lengthwise. Top with pine nuts and walnuts. With a sharp knife, cut both sides of each piece of dough at 1″ intervals at 45 degree downwards-slanting angles. Start the criss-cross by folding the top piece of dough down onto the filling. Then alternate crossing the side strips of dough. When you get near the end, tuck the bottom piece of dough over the filling and finish crisscrossing so you end up with a nicely sealed loaf. Brush the dough with egg white and bake at 375F for 25 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, cover the loaves with aluminum foil to prevent them from over-browning.

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