Braided Bread

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This is traditionally made on Easter, and I totally realize that it’s way too late for you guys to make it, but I made some, and it’s so good I have no idea why anyone would possibly only make this once a year.

It’s a long process to make this, but you’re not doing anything for most of it, so it’s not a problem!

I got this recipe from Food Wishes, and really loved how it turned out. I changed the ingredients up a tiny bit, but only to change the flavouring, so the bread is practically the same. If you want to see how it’s done, go and check out the site! I love cooking from video tutorials, because you can see exactly what your recipe is supposed to look like every step of the way. I’m considering doing them myself, but that might be a long time coming.

Ingredients:

Bread:

  • 1 (.25 oz) packet of dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees F.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp anise seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • a drop of your food colouring, go for whatever colour you want, or a mix of colours!

This bread is super flavourful and really fun to make and look at! You can cover the whole thing in icing, or you can drizzle it like I did, or you can be grown ups and not put any icing on at all (who wants to be grown ups though, seriously?)

Dissolve yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, lemon zest, anise seeds, lemon extract, and salt, together in a bowl.

Pour egg mixture, melted butter, and milk into yeast mixture once proofed, and stir to combine. Add 4 cups flour, 1 cup at time, stirring after each addition. When the dough is ready (it will be quite sticky), turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour (or more, I did) as necessary, 5 to 6 minutes.

Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Place a damp cloth over the bowl, place bowl in the oven with the oven light on, and let rise until doubled in size, 12 hours or overnight.

Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper, and set them aside.

Punch the dough down and divide into four equal portions. Divide each portion into three ropes. Braid each set of three dough ropes to form four small braided loaves. If you know you’re awful at braiding, you could probably just make them into two stranded twists. Transfer loaves to prepared baking sheets, 2 per sheet, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. The recipe didn’t say to do it, but I covered mine with a damp towel so they wouldn’t dry out, or you could probably cover them with cling film, dusting them with flower first so it doesn’t stick (drape it over, don’t tightly cover them).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake bread in the preheated oven until the tops are golden and the bottom of the loaves sound hollow when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. It’s not completely necessary, but I brushed mine with milk to promote nicer browning.

If icing them, you need to let them cool completely before icing them, as with anything.

The icing is super easy, and sets up hard. Just mix everything together, and you’re golden!

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-Happy Cooking!

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