I DID IT! I followed the recipe I found on-line (and noted below) and made a HUGE Greek Easter Bread for the Religious Ed kids tomorrow. We are talking about Easter and Lenten traditions and clearly the Greek Christian culture traces its roots right to the Apostles. The traditional red-dyed eggs will be added in the middle, when I transport it tomorrow morning.
I doubled the recipe in order to make a huge circular braid, I have a lot of kids to feed from the single loaf. I also made a mini-brioche loaf (because a spiced, fragrant brioche is what this bread is)--for my husband.
I also added about 1 tsp of freeze-dried orange peel for extra fragrance.
GREEK EASTER BREAD
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- Dash of salt
- Dash of sugar
- 2 packages dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons each)
- 4 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 large egg yolk
- Place allspice and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder, and process until finely ground. Set aside.
- Combine water, dash of salt, dash of sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 20 minutes.
- Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in allspice mixture. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
- Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
- Divide dough into 3 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 14-inch-long rope. Place ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch); pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg yolk, stirring with a whisk. Brush half of yolk mixture over loaf. Let stand for 5 minutes. Repeat procedure with the remaining yolk mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Use leftovers to make French toast.