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
- Combine yeast and warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- In a heavy saucepan heat milk, butter, activated yeast, sugar, saffron, and salt. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
- 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.
- Punch down dough and divide in half. Loosely wrap 1 piece in plastic wrap and set aside.
- Form dough into desired shape.
- 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.
- 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.