Isabelle’s braided hazelnut bread

Photographer: Adam

Last week Sam shared with you his winning chocolate macaron recipe from last year’s Dunedin office bake-off. Today we bring you the second place getter, a beautiful, sweet braided bread made by Isabelle, one of our engineering team leaders. Isabelle is Swiss French and this recipe is one that holds special memories of her childhood. It could not be more perfect for autumn – warm, fresh from the oven and filled with apples, ground hazelnuts and apricot jam.

“Growing up, baking was kept for when we had guests, and even then it had to be quick and simple. Most of the effort was reserved for the main meal. I have such fond memories of Dad around the cooker having in-depth conversations about which was the best spice to add. And of course, while eating the meal around the family table the conversation would without fail turn to how we might improve on our efforts and what we might make next time.

“I think most sweet recipes contained apples and hazelnuts – two flavours I never tire of. Now living on the other side of the world in New Zealand, this bread brings me back to crisp, sunny, winter Sundays when lunch was a feast and dessert a well-deserved pick-me-up after a morning filled with winter chores; stacking firewood and clearing the paths of snow.

“This bread was traditionally cut into short cylinders and packed side-by-side in a round tin to bake into a cake, but I think the extra effort of braiding it makes it look just as beautiful as it tastes!”


Sweet Dough
150ml milk
2tsp yeast
3tbsp sugar
50g butter
250g flour
½ tsp salt

Hazelnut mix
150g hazelnut
3tbsp sugar
1 apple, peeled and thickly grated
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
Approximately 3 tbsp cream

3tbsp apricot jam

100g icing sugar
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water


Sweet Dough
1. Mix all ingredients in a mixer until the dough is soft and smooth.
2. Set aside in a warm place and let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume. Cover with cling film to prevent the dough drying out. (I left mine in the oven at 50°C.) This should take approximately two hours.

Hazelnut mix
1. Finely grind ¾ of the hazelnuts, leaving the last ¼ more coarsely ground to add some texture to the bread.
2. Fold in sugar, grated apple, lemon zest and juice. Add just enough cream so that the mixture is moist but not wet.

Putting it all together
Preheat oven to 220°C on Bake
1. Roll out the dough to 3mm thick in a short rectangular shape, 30x40cm.
2. Using your fingers spread the jam over the dough, stopping about 2cm from each edge. Be careful not to stretch the dough as you do this.
3. Spread the hazelnut mix on top of jam.
4. Roll up the dough from the longest edge.
5. Place the rolled dough on a lightly floured oven tray with the open edge on the top.
6. Cut lengthways along the centre of the roll starting 3cm from one end. Ensure it is cut right through.
7. Turn the cut lengths of dough so the layers of filling are exposed. Tuck the top under slightly and start braiding, making sure the exposed layers of filling continue to face the top. Tuck the ends under.
8. Place ¾ the way down in a preheated oven and bake for between 25-30min. When cooked the bread should be golden brown and the filling caramelised and not too wet.
9. Mix together all icing ingredients and ice the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Enjoy warm or cold.