Saturday, July 15, 2006

Czech Easter Braid

The photos for this bread came out poorly - but the bread itself was delicious: a delicate, crispy crust, with a flakey yet soft interior and a lemony flavor. I ate it with delight for a whole week and it never went stale.

Recipe: Czech Easter Braid
Modified from Kathy Cutler's The Festive Bread Book
Makes 1 medium braid

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp ground mace
2 Tbsp warm milk
1 egg
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 egg white, optional, for glaze

Proof the yeast: mix it with the warm water and set aside for 5 minutes, until foamy.

Meanwhile, mix 3/4 cup flour with the sugar, salt, lemon meel, and mace. Cut in the butter until the mixture has the texture of wet sand.

To the yeast, add the warm milk and egg, then add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the last 1/4 cup of flour, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the raisins and almonds until a smooth dough forms - about 10 minutes. Set in a greased bowl, turn to coat, cover, and let rise until double - about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Punch down the dough and divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope, and braid the ropes together. Set on a greased baking sheet, brush the top with egg white for a glaze, and bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

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