In Hungary Advent wreaths are normally made of fir, pine cones and 4 candles for the 3rd Sunday before Christmas, to light a candle each Sunday and then the last one on Christams Eve. I was so happy to discover that people also bake them, in fact some bake one for each Sunday of Advent! I think it's a lovely thing to do and you could decorate it with small candles if you wish.
I based the recipe on the Norwegian kringle wreath from Scandilicious Baking and glad I did. The distinctive flavour of ground cardamom in the dough and the lightness of this sweet milky bread is fantastic. I added kirsch soaked dried sour cherries instead of sultanas as they go so well with the almond paste that is the filling for this wreath. The sugar crystals and almonds on top make it look really festive too.
For the dough:
300ml whole milk
500g plain flour
1tsp ground cardamom
7g dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
50g dried sour cherries
3-4tbsp kirsch or cherry liqueur
75g ground almonds
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2-3 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
sugar crystals (I used Lidl's edible cake decorations) or crushed sugar cubes
Scald the milk by heating it with the butter until almost boiling, this will make the bread softer. Let it cool to lukewarm temperature. Sift together the flour, sugar, cardamom, salt and dried yeast and mix well. Add the beaten egg and the slightly warm buttery milk and mix it until you get a smooth dough that comes off the sides of the bowl. Cover and let it prove in a warm place until doubles in size, for 30-40 minutes.
Make the filling by soaking the cherries in the kirsch. Mix all the filling ingredients together (add sugar to taste) in a food processor until you get a creamy paste.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface so it is a long thin rectangle of about 15x60cm. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, drain the cherries and sprinkle these over evenly. Roll it up into a cylinder, starting from one of the longer edges of the rectangle, brushing the other long edge with a bit of water to help seal the pastry. Bring the two open ends together to form a wreath shape and pinch to seal them together. Leave to prove in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
Preaheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Glaze the wreath with the beaten egg then sprinkle almond flakes and sugar crystals all over it. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the base. My oven is really fierce, so I had to cover it halfway with foil, but all ovens are different. Cool on a wire rack before serving. You can also make it in advance and freeze this wreath, in that case defrost in a low 150C oven for 20-25 minutes, then bake at 190C for 5 minutes.