Well I know it is kinda early to bake this kind of bread, but I love Easter bread and that gave me the perfect excuse… not that I needed any, it is my blog after all. Baking this bread is an Easter holiday tradition to several Eastern European countries, including my country of birth, Romania. Anyway, to make a long story short, it is sweet, it is delicious and make sure you bake it as soon as possible.
Start off by combining the milk, butter and margarine in a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Heat until they melted but make sure it does not start boiling. An easier way would be to use the microwave oven for butter and margarine, it will melt them in no time and then you can add the milk. Add one cup of sugar and stir until it dissolves, then set it aside and let it cool until it’s moderately warm.
While you’re waiting for the milk mixture to cool, in a small bowl, dissolve 2 tsp of sugar in the warm water, add the yeast and stir. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. If it does not become frothy then your yeast is too old.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and slowly add the lukewarm milk mixture, while whisking constantly. The idea here is to keep the eggs uncooked. Add the yeast mixture and stir.
In a large bowl add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the wet mixture. Stir it with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky dough then place it on a well floured surface and start kneading for about 10 minutes. After that, oil a bowl, place the dough in it and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until it doubles in size.
After the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise again until doubled, this time it will only take about an hour.
You are very close to the end. Cut the dough into about 4 pieces, then cut each of those pieces into thirds. Roll each one of those into ropes about 12 inches (30 cm) long then braid sets of three ropes together, pinching the ends to seal and tucking them under. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and place the loaves, making sure to leave at least 4 inches (10 cm) between the loaves.
Set in a warm place again and let it rise so that it doubles again.
Preheat oven to 350° F / 177° C. Brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake until golden brown for about 30 minutes.
- 1 cup Milk, warm
- 1 cup Butter, unsalted
- 1 cup Margarine
- 1 cup Sugar
- ½ cup Water, lukewarm
- 2 tsp Sugar, to mix with yeast
- 2 envelopes (16g) Yeast, dry active
- 5 Eggs
- 6 cups Flour, all purpose
- 1½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1½ tsp Salt
- 1 Egg White, for egg wash
- 2 tbsp Sesame or Poppy Seeds