Although this round-shaped Easter bread is not sweet, it’s richer than ordinary bread. The top is decorated by dough ornamentation in the form of an ornate cross.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granular yeast (1 package)
3 cups scalded milk, lukewarm
5 cups flour
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
9 to 10 cups sifted flour
Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit for 10 minutes. Combined the softened yeast with the lukewarm milk and 5 cups of flour. Beat well until smooth. Cover and let the batter rise in a warm place until light and bubbly. Add the beaten eggs, sugar, melted butter, and salt; mix thoroughly. Stir in enough flour to make a dough that is neither very soft nor very stiff. Knead until the dough no longer sticks to the hand.
Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down and let it rise again. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Wrap one in plastic and set aside. Shape the remaining two parts into round balls and place in greased, round pans, such as a 9-inch springform pan. Cover the pans with towels and let rise in a warm place until dough reaches the tops of the pans.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
– Take 2 equal pieces of dough. Roll each, with your fingers, to a 36″ length; place side by side. Follow the diagram below, to entwine the two lengths (the straight red line indicates the center of the dough lengths). Starting from the center, entwine each length about the other. It is important to keep straightening the dough as you go, so you don’t get a deformed twist (indicated by the red arrows, below). Do the other half in like manner.
– Place the entwined length on the base in a circle along the edge (see orange arrow below). Roll 4 equal-sized pieces of dough each to 12-14″ length. Take 2 pieces, and entwine them as above. Then take the other two, and entwine them. Lay one entwined length on the base (purple arrow), and lay the other entwined length (blue arrow) at a 90° angle, so the layout is as below. Let rise to double in bulk.
Brush loaf tops with a beaten egg diluted with 2 tablespoons of water. Bake in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees) for about 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350° F and bake for 40 minutes more or until done. The bread is done when you tap the bread with your fingertips, and hear a dull, “thump” sound. Remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool.
Makes 2 large loaves.