Prep 4 hrs
Cook 4 hrs
This has become a family tradition for Easter. The recipe makes a LOT of bread (like ten loaves, less if you get fancy) but that is okay because it is meant to be shared with friends and family. My dad and I make it every year on Good Friday to eat for Easter breakfast. My father says "This is an all day job that cannot be rushed. The results are worth the effort. You may alter the recipe by doubling, halving, quartering etc. or by using less sugar, more or less raisins, or vanilla. You may also add mixed peel in addition to or in place of raisins. Some add nuts as well. A big loaf can be decorated with braids or made in the shape of a cross. A bundt pan makes an impressive family bread. Each time you make it you will improve. This makes a Christmas bread as well if you like this type of bread. Enjoy!". Prep time is mixing ingredients, putting into pans, moving loaves in and out of the oven etc. Cook time is rising and actual baking combined.
For the sponge
- 1 liter milk, scalded and cooled
- 4 1⁄2 cups flour
- 1 (1/4 ounce) packet yeast, prepared according to package directions
- 5 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
For the dough
- 10 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 lb raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
- 11 -12 cups flour
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packets yeast, prepared according to package directions
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large egg whites
- For the sponge - the night before (or at least 2 hours earlier) add prepared yeast and milk to a large bowl or container (we use a large roaster). Add flour one cup at a time, using a whisk to make a smooth batter. Add food colouring if using to get the desired golden colouring. Cover and let stand (we use a clean pillow case, and leave it on the kitchen counter).
- For the Dough - Add 10 eggs, 2 yolks, vanilla, oil, raisins, brown sugar, prepared yeasts, and salt to the paste mixing well.
- Add the flour one cup at a time mixing well after each addition. It will get harder and harder to mix as you go along. When you think your arm is going to fall of, it is time to turn out the sticky dough and knead in the rest of the flour by hand (we get to between 10 and 11 cups with a lot of complaining LOL).
- Wash and oil pan, then place the dough back inside. Pat the top of the dough with a little oil as well.
- Cover and allow to rise until double in size (we let it rise to the top of the roaster). This can take an hour or longer depending on how warm your area is.
- Turn out of pan onto a floured surface and punch down, adding a bit of flour to keep it from being too sticky.
- Prepare several loaf pans by brushing with oil or spraying with cooking spray.
- Break off pieces big enough to fill loaf pans about 1/3 full.
- Knead each piece for a bit, trying not to add too much flour to make your dough dry.
- Place in prepared pans to make loaves.
- To make buns, pat a piece of dough about 1 inch thick and cut with an appropriate size glass or biscuit cutter. Arrange buns on an ungreased baking sheet.
- Brush tops of loaves or buns with oil.
- We make a "proofing" table by setting the pans on a table and covering the table with a clean cloth. Use glasses or other props to make sure the cloth won't touch the tops as they rise. If the day is cool or damp or you want to move it faster, use a small electric heater aimed at the table.
- Allow loaves to rise to tops of pans and buns to triple in size (they may expand more sideways than upwards).
- Brush tops carefully with egg white beaten with a bit of water. Don't let the eggwash drip into the sides of the pans or your loaves will stick!
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes for loaves, and 18-20 minutes for buns. If your baking sheets or pans are dark non-stick, watch carefully that the bottoms are not getting too dark. They are ready when the tops are golden and the bottoms are nicely browned (take one or two out of their pans to check).
- Remove from pans and allow to cool.
- Wrap well.
- These are best the day they are made, good the next day, and excellent toasted after that.