I haven’t made this recipe in about ten years, and after posting my earlier entry about how easy it is to make no-knead bread, I was not looking forward to the amount of work I had to do. However, as I was reading through the recipe, I realized that it was simpler than I thought it would be. However, you do have to let it rise three times — for a total of four hours. I got a late start today and it’s now after 11 pm, and I have a half hour to go with the second rise, and then form the bread and let it rise for another hour before I can bake it. This means I won’t be hitting my pillow until well past 1 am. However, I don’t mind, because the end result is so worth it.
(makes 3 10-inch rounds)
DP note: I usually exclude the dyed eggs from the recipe, although they are fine to eat if you decide to include them.
- 3 packages dry yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 5 lb bag of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
- 1 teaspoon ground mahlepi (or cardamom, vanilla, or grated rind of 1 orange)
- 9 hard-cooked eggs, dyed red (optional)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten (for glaze)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds or 1/4 cup sesame seeds (for decoration)
In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir the mixture, then stir in 1/2 cup of the flour.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat well.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, add the lukewarm milk, yeast mixture, and mahlepi. When the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the bag of flour a little bit at a time, until it is all added and the mixture starts to form a dough.
Knead the mixture in the bowl for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover it with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1.5 – 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough, cover it, and let it rise again for one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into thirds. Cut each piece into three strips and form the strips into ropes – you should have nine ropes. Use three ropes to form each braid – you’ll end up with three braids.
Shape each braid into rounds, pinching the ends together.
Lightly butter three baking sheets. Transfer one round to each baking sheet. Tuck 3 eggs (optional) into each braid, setting them into the spaces in the strands of the braids.
Let the breads rise again for about one hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each bread (not the eggs) with glaze and sprinkle with the almonds or sesame seeds.
Bake the breads for 30-35 minutes, or until their tops are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. If the breads seem to be browning too quickly during baking, cover them loosely with foil.
Cool on racks and cut into wedges for serving.
Note: If you don’t have room for all the breads to bake at once, let one of the breads rise in a slightly cooler place than the others, so it wont be ready as quickly. Then bake the other two breads first.