After launching the new Abruzzo4foodies site, I promised to share my own family recipes, stories and food anecdotes I collected from my female relatives and friends. I intend to keep a regular record of my culinary knowlege hence I start with Cheese Braids, a recipe that my mother-in-law involuntarily stole from a local baker.
Many years ago she went for shopping and was offered to taste a newly invented goodie, namely the Cheese Braids. She praised the quality of the product and you know what? The employees just shared the detailed recipe with her, including a few tips on preparation process! To be honest, my mother-in-law would have killed to learn how to prepare those delicacies but never expected such an enthusiastic response to her questions.
I cannot say who is the recipe owner (and maybe she wouldn’t reveal it to me anyway), certainly that fortunate episode was the reason why these delicious cheese braids have cheered many family celebrations. Therefore this post is my personal thank you to the baker for so much generosity!
WHAT YOU NEED
- 5 medium eggs
- 500 gr white flour
- 400 gr of mixed grated cheese (at least 1/3 of seasoned Parmigiano Reggiano)
- 100 gr butter (or same quantity of extra-virgin olive oil)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of sugar
- vanilla yeast
- 3-4 eggs yolks
Preheat the oven up to 180°C, on a flat surface put the flour and make a hole large enough to add the other ingredients. Break the eggs into the hole and work them slowly with a fork, blending the flour gradually. In a separate pan melt the butter to a warm temperature, without frying. If you use olive oil, no need to warm it up. Pour the melted butter into the hole where you have already worked the eggs and flour, add the grated cheese, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, include vanilla yeast and work the dough slowly with the hands until it becomes a soft and perfectly homogeneous ball.
Cut the dough into smaller pieces and roll them to make long snakes, the diameter should be about 1 cm. Cut the dough snakes into pieces of about 12-14 cm, of course length can vary according to your taste. Prepare some large oven pans and cover with baking paper. With the hands cross the dough snakes to form braids, arrange them on the pans leaving at least 5-8 cm of space between them. Beat the egg yolks and use them to brush the braids before baking, helping yourself with a pastry brush. Bake and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the braids get a golden-brown color.
Cheese braids are perfect as appetizers or to accompany a cheeseor salmi platter. I would suggest to pair them with one of my favourite Cerasuolo wines from Abruzzo, Villa Gemma by Masciarelli Winery (approximate price € 12 per bottle). Cerasuolo is a rosé version of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, its name means “cherry-red” and relates to the deep color the wine gets even with very brief skin-contact with the highly pigmented skins of the Montepulciano grape. Cerasuolo tends to be medium-body and rather hearty for an Italian rosé with aromas of orange peel, cinnamon, strawberry and dried cherries.