Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Greece Again: Vasilopita

I know, we already ate Greek, but I couldn't resist this beautiful braided bread. It's a traditional Greek bread made on St. Basil's Day, i.e. New Years Day.

Vasilopita Recipe
Modified from The Festive Bread Book by Kathy Cutler
Makes 1 8-inch braided loaf

1 Tbsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 cups flour
1/4 cup chopped almonds, for topping

Proof the yeast by dissolving it in the warm water and letting it sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the warm milk, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, lemon peel, spices, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix in the yeast mixture, then add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth - about 10 minutes. Then let rise in a covered, greased bowl until doubled - about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Flatten one half of the dough into a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Shape the other half into three long ropes, each about 9 inches long. Braid the ropes and attach the ends so it makes a loop. Press the loop into the top of the loaf and sprinkle the middle with chopped almonds.

Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake 30 - 40 minutes, until light brown on top.

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