Greek Christmas Bread
- Ready In:
- 3 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 3⁄4 cups fine sugar
- 12 3⁄4 cups flour
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces dried figs
- 2 ounces dried apricots
- 1 1⁄3 cups almonds
- 1⁄2 cup warm water
- 5 eggs
- 1 1⁄2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup butter
- 2⁄3 cup golden raisin
- 3 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- PREPARATION NOTES: Melt the butter, chop the dried figs, chop the apricots and chop the almonds.
- Place yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp flour, salt and warm water into a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 15 - 20 minutes or until frothy.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together 4 eggs, the remaining sugar and the milk. Stir in the frothy yeast mixture, 6 1/2 cuts of the remaining flour and the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted butter then the remaining ingredients.
- Mix to form a stiff dough, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (add remaining flour if needed). The dough should smooth and soft.
- Return the dough to the cleaned mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough back to its original size. Return to the bowl again, cover and leave in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into about a 12 inch rope and braid three of them together, molding the ends together to seal. Repeat with the other three ropes and make another braid. Place each braid o a lightly oiled cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for a final 40 minutes until the braid has risen.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and glaze the tops of both braids. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
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