Easter bread is a tradition around much of the world, especially throughout Europe. Its not dissimilar to Challah, the traditional braided bread usually eaten in Jewish households, with the difference that Challah is enriched with lots of eggs, whereas this Easter bread contains milk and butter which would not be allowed in a kosher diet.
This bread is a Greek recipe,based on and almost unchanged from this recipe from the Cooking Spree blog. Here’s what you need to make it -this recipe is in cups, if you prefer to work in grams, see my conversion page here. The ingredients are in the order you’ll use them which is how I find it easiest to write them! –
- 1/2 cup warm water
- the zest of one orange and one lemon
- 1 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1.5 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dried yeast (equal to a 7g sachet)
- good pinch salt
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 egg
- 2.5 – 3 cups more plain flour
- a little milk and sesame seeds or poppy seeds, for the top
First, zest your orange and lemon and add to a bowl with the warm water and olive oil. Next, add the milk and whisk together. In a new bowl, combine your 1/2 cup flour with the yeast, sugar and salt and slowly whisk the dry mix into your wet mix. Cover with clingfilm and put it a warm place for 20 minutes.
When you return to the mixture it should be frothy and bubbly.
Whisk in your melted butter and egg until combined, and then use a wooden spoon as you add the bulk of the flour. Add enough until it comes together as a dough, and then begin kneading it with your hands. I kneaded my dough in the bowl for just a few minutes – it came together into a soft dough very quickly. Transfer to the bowl you first used to mix your dry ingredients, cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm for 40 minutes.
Once the 40 minutes is up, check out your dough – it should have doubled in size. Preheat your oven at this point to around 160 degrees/gas mark 5/325 farenheit, and grease a baking tray and transfer the dough onto it. You can cook the loaf in any shape you want – I tried to make it into the authentic twisted shape so I rolled it with my hands into a long sausage and then twisted it around itself. A simple circle would also look great though. Leave to prove on the tray for another 30-50 minutes, until its roughly doubled in size again.
Once your dough is ready to bake, apply a little egg or milk wash and sesame or poppy seeds, if you want to use them.
Bake for 40 minutes and enjoy! It tastes great just with butter and awesome toasted.