Cherry Swirl Bread

Love is baked right into this bread, with a heart-shaped swirl of cherries and walnuts. The dough is surprisingly simple to make, and creating the heart just takes an extra step or two; I’ll walk you through it.

Make sure your bread pan isn’t too small. A 9-inch by 5-inch pan (or even a little bigger) works well.  This is a large loaf . . . more to love!

I used dried, sweetened dark cherries. (Not freeze-dried!) On my first attempt I used frozen dark cherries (heated and drained) and it was a sloppy mess. Still, it almost worked . . . if you don’t count the dramatic way it blew up in the pan. Luckily, I half expected this, and used a sheet pan under the bread pan. Whew.

Of course, if you don’t want to fuss with the heart shape, you can just roll it up with the filling like a spiral bread. It’s still delicious! But I really recommend my method of brushing egg wash on the dough as you roll. It helps the whole thing hold together. No one wants to pick up a piece of bread and have it unroll!

Cherry Swirl Bread
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Makes 1 large loaf of bread. (Use at least a 9x5 pan.)
Ingredients
  • BREAD:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup warm water with a pinch of sugar added
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3¾ cups flour (adjust if needed)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil (light flavored, like canola or peanut oil)
  • FILLING:
  • 5 ounces finely chopped dried (not freeze dried!) dark cherries - about a cup
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg white (reserve the yolk for assembly)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup ground (or very finely chopped) walnuts
Instructions
  1. BREAD: Heat milk and butter until butter is melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended). In a small cup or bowl, combine warm water with a pinch of sugar and the yeast. Let it sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. To the milk mixture in bowl, add yeast mixture, egg, sugar, and 2 cups of the bread flour. Beat well.
  3. Add salt and remaining flour, (enough to make dough come cleanly away from sides of bowl) and mix until completely combined. With mixer running, drizzle oil over the dough and knead by machine for 6 minutes (or by hand on lightly floured surface for 8 minutes).
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until double, approximately 45-60 minutes. Make the filling while the dough rises.
  5. FILLING: Mix together finely chopped cherries, sugar, flour, egg white, vanilla, and walnuts. Set aside. Combine the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water and whisk well.
  6. ASSEMBLY: Move raised dough to a very lightly floured surface. Press into a rectangle or log. Cut off ⅓ and set aside.
  7. Press the larger piece of dough firmly into greased bread pan. (I spray my pan with a flour/oil blend like Baker's Joy). Try to make the dough level. Set aside.
  8. Roll the small piece of dough into a long rectangle, approximately 8 inches by 15 inches. Distribute the filling over the dough. Don't worry if it doesn't completely cover the dough, just keep it as even as possible.
  9. You will be rolling both ends toward the middle, so mark the middle of one of the long sides for reference. Beginning at one short end, roll dough snugly, pulling toward yourself slightly as you go. Use a pastry brush or paper towel to brush the floury bottom side lightly with egg wash as you roll. (This will help the swirls stick together.) Roll to your middle mark. Repeat, rolling from the other end. Both sides should be equal - if not, adjust by unrolling the larger side a little and rolling the other until they touch. Pinch the ends closed.
  10. With a sharp knife, cut the dough in the pan lengthwise, right down the middle, almost to the bottom of the pan. Use your hands or a dough scraper to make a V-shaped channel.
  11. With floured hands, quickly pick up the rolled dough. The round tops will be the top of the heart, so press the sides to make the bottom a little pointed, and tuck the roll into the V-shaped channel in the pan, getting it as deep as possible.
  12. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until the bottom section of dough is just above the sides of the pan. (The heart part will be higher.) Brush with any remaining egg wash.
  13. Heat oven to 375F. Place bread pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until it's a rich dark brown. Bottom should sound hollow when tapped.
  14. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely before cutting. (Don't cut while hot, or the filling might not set properly.)

The dough is easy, so I’m not going to overwhelm you with prep photos. Here it is, ready to rise.

This is nice dough – not sticky, rises quickly. I cut corners and didn’t move it to a greased bowl. It was fine rising in the mixing bowl. (One less thing to wash!)

Cut 1/3 of the dough off and set it aside.

Press the large piece of dough firmly into bread pan. Make it as level as possible.

Roll out the small piece of dough and cover with filling. (I forgot the walnuts, so sprinkled them on. It worked!)

Brush the dough as you go!

Meetin’ in the middle!
And yeah, yeah, it got a little messy. I was on a roll and forgot to stop in the center. Had to put it in reverse. Adds some rustic charm to the finished bread.

Slash the dough in pan down the middle and press open into a V-shaped channel.

Pick up rolled dough, pressing together at the bottom (which will be the pointy part of the heart) and fit into the channel in the pan.

Let it rise until the bottom bread is just above the edge of the pan. The rounded heart dough will be standing tall. Brush with remaining egg wash.

Baked.

I know it’s hard to wait, but do let this bread cool down before cutting. The texture will be so much better. Warm is okay; you have to be able to melt that butter, right? Or put a couple of slices under the broiler and enjoy it toasted. (I don’t recommend using a toaster. If that filling fell out, it would make a real mess.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lorinda

 

 

2 thoughts on “Cherry Swirl Bread

  1. Oh wow! This loaf is so cute — and so is the teddy bear! I just happen to have some dried cherries begging me to make this bread.

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