Macedonian Easter bread
- 10 full cups all purpose flour (about 3½ lbs)
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups sugar
- rind of 1 lemon
- ½ lb butter melted (reserve 4 tbsp.)
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1½ cups warm water
- 4 pkg. dry yeast
- 6 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup flour + 2 cups flour for kneading
- 1 egg beaten, for topping
- sesame seeds for topping
- Heat oven to 200 °F and shut off.
- Measure 10 cups flour in a large shallow pan; push to sides to leave a hole in centre.
- In a small saucepan mix 2 cups milk, 2 cups sugar and lemon rind. Warm to melt sugar.
- In a large bowl, prepare yeast by mixing 4 tsp sugar with 1½ cups warm water, sprinkle yeast on top, cover and set aside.
- Add butter to milk mixture, stir.
- Beat eggs with electric mixer for 2 minutes, add to milk mixture and stir.
- Begin to mix dough by pouring ½ of milk mixture into the centre of the flour, bringing in flour from all sides by hand; continue adding remaining liquid.
- Stir yeast and add to dough, mixing with hand as before.
- Keep dough soft, use both hands and add about 1 cup flour.
- Knead slightly and turn out on heavily floured table.
- Knead for about 10 minutes, then cut slashes with a knife in several places (this allows more air to get in dough)
- Add about 2 cups more of flour, kneading as you work.
- Cut through twice more while kneading about 5 minutes longer. Total kneading time is about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Use 4 tablespoons reserved butter when called for hereafter.
- Lightly grease a warm roasting pan with butter.
- Lightly grease a clean table top and turn dough once so that all is lightly covered with butter.
- Place greased dough in pan; butter top with fingertips, so that no crust will form.
- Cover with cloth and let rise 1 to 1½ hours in warmed oven.
- Butter 4 loaf pans.
- Turn dough onto buttered table and cut into 12 equal strips, 3 at a time, about 9 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
- Twirl slightly, braid and tuck ends under and place in loaf pans.
- Pat evenly on top and touch with butter.
- Cover and let rise 1 hour until double in bulk in oven.
- Remove from oven and heat oven to 300 °F.
- Beat 1 egg and brush loaves; sprinkle with sesame seeds, bake for 1 hour.
- Loaves should be light brown on bottom, and deep brown on top.
- When making a double recipe divide into two parts after mixing together all ingredients and before kneading to make baking easier.
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