Tasty Tuesdays – Hot Sandwich Braid
Raise your hand if you like sandwiches. *Me!* Now, keep them up if you like, hot, melty, delicious sandwiches from the oven. *Oooooh, pick me!*
Sandwiches are often a quick, convenient, and familiar (which, when living overseas, is comforting) food. They can be cold, pressed, grilled, open-faced, stacked, baked, stuffed… the possibilities are endless. They come in all different forms, with all different breads and fillings, but the basic elements are always the same – bread on the outside, delicious other stuff on the inside.
I first made this recipe a while ago, not long after getting married and starting my first full-time job at an elementary school in Indiana. It was time for my first work carry-in (or potluck), and I wanted to bring something everyone would like, wasn’t too hard to do, and didn’t cost a lot to make. I wanted whatever it was to be homemade and delicious – after all, I was trying to make a good first impression!
Well, after bringing this in, I got requests to make it again for most events after that for 3 years (and, if you know the staff I was a part of, then you already know how much everybody loves an excuse to have them during the year!). It’s simple, delicious, versatile, takes just over an hour from start to your plate, and looks beautifully impressive (though, my pictures today aren’t so lovely, as I ran out of daylight and had to rely solely on our fluorescent ceiling lamps – blargh). The dough is super easy to work with as well. That makes this a definite winner in my book!
This recipe comes straight from a Taste of Home leaflet I got inside another magazine almost 5 years ago. I’ve added a few notes in blue, as well as a few other tips at the end. Try it out, and enjoy!
Ham & Swiss Braid
Makes one large loaf, about the length of a cookie sheet.
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) quick-rise yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (I like to use French’s spicy brown)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound thinly sliced deli ham (smoked, honey, & pepper all work great!)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles (totally optional – I’ve never used them, as not everybody likes hot pickles)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- In a bowl, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat water, mustard and butter to 120°-130°. Add to flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be slightly stiff). Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
- Roll dough into a 14″ x 12″ rectangle on a greased baking sheet. (I just line my sheet with parchment paper and don’t bother with the greasing. Easy cleanup!) Arrange half of the ham over dough. Top with cheese, pickles and remaining ham.
- On each long side, cut 3/4″ wide strips about 2-1/2″ into center. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling. Pinch ends to seal. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.
- Brush with egg. (Add toppings – see notes below.) Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Other notes and tips –
- You can also use many other filling combinations for this braid – just be sure that whatever you choose fill it with, will go with the slight mustard flavor of the dough. Previous braids that I have made have included: ham & swiss; ham & cheddar; roast beef & cheddar; roast beef & provolone; turkey & swiss; turkey & cheddar; turkey, honey ham, & smoked provolone. I also think pastrami would be amazing, though I have yet to try that one out – can’t find it over here!
- If you make one large loaf, as the recipe specifies, the bread will be a nice fluffy, thick texture. However, I have made this recipe before, dividing the batch of dough in half, and rolling it to almost the same size, though thinner. That way, I could get 2 braids, with separate fillings, out of one batch – and, it wouldn’t be as bready. It’s good both ways, just depends on how much bread you enjoy! Just try it out each way, and see which one YOU like best.
- By adding other toppings, such as parsley, other dried herbs, sesame or poppy seeds, shredded Asiago or Parmesan to the top of your braid (after brushing with egg), you can add a little extra flair, as well as help others distinguish which braids are filled with what. For example, top the roast beef braid with sesame seeds, the ham braid with parsley, and tell your guests so they can tell at a glance which one they want to dig into.
- Also worthy of note – if you happen to be one who enjoys stromboli, this is similar, but has key differences to be aware of, so you are not surprised or disappointed if you are expecting them to be the same. This braid is made with a thicker, fluffier bread dough that will rise as it bakes and give more to bite into, as opposed to the thinner pizza dough that stromboli is usually made with. Also, this dough is made with mustard, so the dough will have a slightly more tangy flavor, as opposed to a pizza dough serving as a blank canvas for the fillings.