Easter is a big celebration in Greece, and Greek Easter bread is an integral part of the feast. The truly great thing is this: it isn’t that difficult to make!
Amy Riolo is ready to help you make a loaf of Greek Easter Bread with such ease that you’ll wonder why you never tried it before!
Proof the yeast
You’ll want to start by “proofing” the yeast. Do this by whisking 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry rapid-rise yeast into 3/4 C of lukewarm milk. Set it aside.
Add in richness
Take 1/4 C of slightly softened butter (room temperature) and add 3 T. of sugar; cream them together. Now add in the yeast mix that you set aside before, and two eggs as well (the eggs are what gives the bread its richness), and mix it together at low speed.
Add in dry ingredients
It’s time to give the bread its real flavor: take 1 t. allspice, 2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. salt, and 4 C of flour. Change the attachment on your mixer to a kneading fork (it saves you kneading with your hands, though there’s no reason for it other than convenience). Put all the ingredients together and let it knead for about three minutes, or 10 minutes if you’re doing it by hand. Cover the mixture with a towel and let it sit for one hour so it can rise.
Shaping your loaf
Once it’s risen, punch it down and you’re ready to shape it. Traditional Greek Easter bread is braided and shiny, with red eggs baked right into it. It may look difficult, but it’s very easy to do.
First, flour your worktop and turn the dough out onto it. Separate the dough into three equal parts, first rolling them into banks and then taking the balls and creating small log shapes with them.
Keep rolling each of the logs until they become more like ropes than logs and measure about a foot each in length. Make sure that all three are consistent in size and weight.
Braid your bread!
Line your baking sheet with waxed paper and lay out your three ropes onto the sheet. Pinch all three together at one end: this is going to become the “top” of your braid. Take the piece on the right side, pass over the middle piece, and put the end down side the middle piece. Take the left-hand rope now and pass it over the middle just like you did before and put it down. Repeat with the right side, then the left. Now you have a beautiful braid! Just pinch them all together at this end like you did on the other end.
Now, take three eggs that you’ve dyed red (the traditional Easter color in Greece) and place them in the center of the bread. You’re almost ready to bake!
Glaze and bake
All you have to do now is glaze your bread. Do this by combining one egg yolk, 1 t. water, 1 t. honey, and whisking them briskly. Take your brush and brush this mixture onto the bread until you’ve used it all. If you’d like, sprinkle it with almonds or raisins, and then p the bread in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes until it’s just golden in color.
This will give you a beautiful traditional Easter bread that your whole family is sure to enjoy!