This bread is based on a recipe in “The Cook’s Guide to Bread,” by Ingram and Shapter, a fine bread book.
I made two loaves of this bread for my Greek friends for Easter.
I had to make it in two batches, separated by an hour, because I wasn’t sure my oven would handle two breads of this size at the same time. It turns out that I probably could have baked them at the same time, but I still think it was the right decision.
Mahlepi and mastic are available from The Greek Store
Notice that there is no pre-ferment. The recipe calls for using milk instead of water, and I am a little cautious about using milk in a long-time preferment, especially at room temperature. I know that some people use milk for “sourdough” starters and leave them out a lot, but I prefer not to.
|Salt||1 tsp||5 ml|
|Mahlepi||1 1/2 tsp||8 ml|
|Mastic||1/4 tsp||1-2 ml|
|Dry Yeast||2 1/4 tsp||8|
Hard boil three eggs and color them red. Just before putting them into the loaf just before rising, coat them gently with oil.
In place of mahlepi, you may use 1 tsp / 5 ml of ground allspice and 1/2 tsp / 2.5 ml each of ground cinnamon and caraway seeds.
I don’t know of any substitute for mastic.
Make a glaze of 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp / 5 ml honey and 1 tsp / 5 ml water. Brush this on the loaf just before baking.
Have some slivered almonds on hand for decoration.
Helpful hints for this recipe
- The recipe calls for a baking temperature of 375 F / 190 C. I’ve found that this is a little too high.
The loaves brown too quickly and the bottom burns a bit, so I reduced the temperature just a little bit.
You can try it both ways and see which works for you.
- Make sure both ends of the braid are securely pinched together. If they aren’t, the loaf may spring apart and look bad.
This dough has enormous oven spring and can undo a poorly secured braid.
- Have a sheet of aluminum / aluminium foil ready to cover the loaf with during the last few minutes of baking.
You may need this “tent” if the loaf browns too quickly.
- Have a couple of pieces of the same foil ready to encase the ends of the loaf if they are browning too quickly.
- If the bottom of the loaf is baking too quickly, during the last few minutes of baking,
place the loaf on a cool baking sheet, place the loaf and baking sheet back in the oven and continue baking.
This is a simple recipe, it just takes a long time to go through it.
1. Place flour, milk, butter, yeast, sugar, mahlepi (or substitutes), mastic, sugar and eggs in the bowl of a large mixer and mix for 2 minutes.
2. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
3. Add salt and knead for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is soft and not very sticky.
4. Cover and let ferment for 1 hour.
5. Fold the dough and return to the covered bowl.
6. Ferment for 1 hour.
7. Fold the dough and return to the covered bowl.
8. Ferment for 1/2 hour.
9. Fold the dough and return to the covered bowl for 1/2 hour.
10. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into three pieces, each about 280 grams / 10 ounces.
11. Roll the dough pieces into long ropes, about 18-20 inches / 50 cm long.
12. Braid the three strands, making sure the ends are tightly secured.
13. Coat the three colored eggs with a light coating of oil.
14. Place the loaf on a baking sheet or parchment paper, push the eggs into the top of the loaf, one in the
center and the other two toward the ends.
15. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
16. Heat the oven to 365 F / 185 C. I use tiles on the wire rack in the oven. You can use tiles, a baking stone or a baking sheet.
17. Just before baking, brush the loaf with the glaze and sprinkle with the slivered almonds.
18. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the loaf to ensure even baking. Check for too-fast browning, especially on the bottom.
Use the tent on top or a cool sheet on the bottom or foil on the ends as needed.
19. Bake until the internal temperature is over 190 F / 88 C, about another 10-15 minutes.
20. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
Here we go
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