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      Russian Easter Bread

      Makes 2 loaves


      2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

      1/4 cup lukewarm water (115 degrees)

      1 cup whole milk

      1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

      1/2 cup sugar

      pinch of saffron threads, crumbled

      2 teaspoons salt

      6 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting

      3 large eggs

      egg wash

      Methodof Preparation:

      1. Combine yeast and warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
      2. In a heavy saucepan heat milk, butter, activated yeast, sugar, saffron, and salt. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
      3. Put flour in a large bowl, lightly beat 3 eggs and add to flour along with milk mixture. Carefully stir together with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Put dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning to coat with oil, cover with plastic and allow to rise for 3 hours. Punch down dough and let rise again, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
      4. Punch down dough and divide in half. Loosely wrap 1 piece in plastic wrap and set aside.
      5. Form dough into desired shape.
      6. Cover loaves with clean kitchen towel and let rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk for 1 1/2 hours.
      7. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with an eggwash and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until goldenbrown. Turn loaves out onto a wire rack to cool.