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      Greek Easter Bread

      Makes 1 loaf

      Ingredients:

      3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk

      1/4-ounce packetactive dry yeast

      4 cups all purposeflour, plus more for dusting

      2/3 cup granulatedsugar

      1 teaspoon finesalt

      1 teaspoon groundmahlepi (optional)

      1/4 teaspoonpounded mastic crystals (optional)

      8 tablespoonsunsalted butter

      2 large eggs

      1 1/2 teaspoons orangezest

      1 large egg yolk

      1/3 cup slicedalmonds, toasted

      Method of Preparation:

      1. In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of the milk to a simmer. Transfer the warm milk to a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
      2. Sift flour, sugar, salt, mahlepi, and mastic together into a large bowl; set aside. Melt 7 tablespoons of the butter. Let the butter cool and add into the flour along with the milk mixture. Add eggs and orange zest. Using a spoon, stir the flour until well combined. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth about 10 minutes.
      3. Place dough in a bowl coated with the remaining butter, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
      4. Remove dough from bowl and divide into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 16-inch rope. Pinch all 3 pieces together on one end to secure, then braid the ropes. Pinch the other end of the ropes together to secure the braid. Set the braided dough on the prepared baking sheet cover with plastic and let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to and arrange a rack in the middle.
      5. Brush the bread with egg wash and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
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