Directions for Bread
1) Warm your milk in a sauce pan. You will want it warm, but not boiling.
2) Get your stand mixer ready with a dough hook attachment. (If you do not have a stand mixer, you can do this by hand.)
3) Pour your warmed milk into the bowl of your mixer. Add the yeast and half of the sugar. 28.Stir once gently and then allow the mixture to sit for five minutes.
4) When you return to your mixture, it should have a light froth on top of the milk.
5) Turn mixer on low speed and add the eggs, honey, butter and salt. (You can mix this by hand if you do not have a mixer.)
6) Immediately sprinkle in 3 cups of your bread flour. Continue with the mixer on low for one minute.
7) Add the remaining half cup of bread flour. Continue with the mixer on low for about two minutes, making sure all of the ingredients combine and your dough is pliable and soft. It should be a tiny bit sticky, but it should begin to come off the walls of the mixer. When that happens, get ready to knead the good ol’ fashion way...by hand.
8) NOTE: If your dough mixture is too sticky (ie. not coming off the walls of the bowl), then add more flour just one tablespoon at a time. Be sure to have patience – you do not want to over-dry your dough.
9) Take the dough out of the mixer and place on a floured surface.
10) Kneed dough for about two minutes.
11) Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl (you can use spray or olive oil). Move the ball around in the greased bowl to make sure all sides are slightly coated with oil.
12) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about two hours at room temperature (or slightly warmer – if your home is cold you could place the bowl in a warmed – but off – oven.) Your dough should double in size.
13) Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it (a bit rougher – like punching style) on a floured surface, removing any air bubbles.
14) Cut your dough in half, again and again so that you have 16 equal pieces.
15) Roll each piece into a little ball.
16) Create your marinade mixture in a small bowl.
17) Place each ball into the marinade mixture, making sure to coat each side of the dough.
18) If you are lucky enough to have a Christmas tree pan, place each ball inside of your greased pan. If you are like the rest of us, use a cookie sheet. Grease the cookie sheet with spray. Place the dough balls in the shape of a tree. Use two on top of two for the base, then create a triangle on top with the remaining dough balls.
19) Take any remaining marinade and brush over your tree.
45.Cover your creation loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a room- temperature setting for about an hour.
20) After an hour, you are ready to bake! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
21) Once at temperature, place the cookie sheet in the oven for 18-20 minutes. You can wait until the tops are slightly golden.
22) While the bread is baking, you can make your topping...
DIrections for Topping
1) Using a Vitamix (or other high-powered blender), add all ingredients.
2) Blend on low for about 15 seconds (or pulse if needed), then turn blender to the highest setting and blend for about 90 seconds.
3) You can add additional water if your dates are dry, and continue to blend until you have a smooth texture with no lumps. You want the consistency to be sticky but smooth/pourable like icing.
Directions for Serving
1) Using a pastry brush, brush on the mixture over your tree dough. Save some to serve on the side of the bread.
2) Take your pink Himalayan salt and sprinkle over the top...the chunkier the better. This will give a savory and sweet an explosion of flavor.
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