Disclaimer: This is not a minimalist recipe.
Every year, the day before Easter, I stay up late to finish baking this bread. This is an all day bread, it takes about 10 hours from start to finish. But it is the most delicious, absolutely incredible bread. Ever.
This is a huge batch, but we give some as gifts for Easter and then eat it all week long. If you use a kitchenaid, it cannot handle this much dough- a Bosch bread mixer can.
Greek Easter Bread
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
In sauce pan, over medium heat, warm milk, then add sugar, butter, salt and anise. Stir and heat until butter is melted.
Mix yeast and warm water in mixer, let sit.
Beat eggs until they are light and fluffy.
Turn mixer on, add 2 cups of flour and then pour in the beaten egg and the milk mixture slowly, alternating. (Allow it to mix while you are pouring and do not dump it in all at once.)
Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, allowing it to mix in between cups. Knead for 5 minutes. Put into greased bowl, flipping so that all sides are coated in grease. Cover with dish towel, set in oven with just the oven light on. Let rise until doubled, approximately 3 hours. (The bowl I use is about 14″ wide and 5″ deep.)
After dough has doubled, punch down dough, put on floured surface and divide into 5 equal sections.
Divide each section into 3 and make “snakes”.
With your fingers put a little cold water on the tips of the 3 “snakes”, squishing them together to seal. Braid and then seal the other end the same way, tucking slightly so the loaf has a nice finish look.
Place on baking sheet, cover with dish cloth and place back in oven (with only the oven light on). Let rise approximately 1 1/2 hours. Just before baking: mix egg and milk for egg wash, brush on loaves and then sprinkle on sesame seeds.
Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes for skinnier loaves (12-14 inches long) or 50-60 minutes for fat loaves (10-12 inches long). This bread rises more when it’s baking.
*Anise seed- I use anise seed and crush it with a mortar and pestle. This seems to have the best flavor.
Traditionally, the breads should have red eggs in the braid, it looks beautiful, but I typically leave them out.
Because I only have round stones for baking sheets, I make my loaves curved, rather than straight.