I know I am too late with this Easter-themed recipe and it’s almost like sharing a recipe for Christmas cookies in the middle of July. But I think it is still worth sharing it with you as it would be a shame to anyhow limit enjoying this tasty, rich, brioche-like bread only to Easter. It can be a perfect part of your weekend breakfast anytime during the year. Best with butter and strawberry jam! Sometimes I toast the slices lightly before buttering.
This bread is traditional for Czech Easter, but you can find many similar recipes for most of the European countries, usually linked to Easter traditions as well.
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 80 ml warm milk (at temperature close to a body temperature, 37ºC)
- 25 g regular yeast
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 40 ml warm milk (at temperature close to a body temperature, 37ºC)
- 1 egg
- 80 g melted butter
- pinch of salt
- 340 g plain flour (in Czech shops – 240 g “hladká” plus 100 g “polohrubá”)
- 70 g caster sugar
- 1 pack vanilla sugar (if available in your store, e.g. Dr Oetker, if not you can use 12 g caster sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1 handful of raisins
- 1 handful of almond pieces + almond slices for sprinkling over the top
- whisked egg for glazing
Make the leaven
In a small bowl, mix milk, flour and sugar. Be sure that the milk is neither too hot nor cold. It’s crucial its temperature is close to body temperature (37ºC). Add small pieces of yeast. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and put it in a warm (not too hot) place, I put it onto a wooden desk placed on a heating radiator.
After 10 or 15 minutes, the yeast should be dissolved and there should be a foam on the top of the milk. If not, wait another 15 minutes. If even then there is no foam, it means that the yeast is likely not alive. In such case, you should start again with new yeast mixture. On the pictures below, you can see how the mixture looked at the beginning (left picture) and at the end, after 30 minutes (right picture).
Make the dough
In a large bowl, mix egg, butter, sugar, salt and milk. Add flour and leaven. Knead the dough carefully with a wooden spoon or in a kitchen robot with a dough hook. If you are doing it by hand, it can take around 15 minutes to knead the dough properly.
Once the dough stops stick to the bowl and to the wooden spoon, you can stop kneading. Work the raisins and almond pieces into the dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set it in a worm place to let the dough rise for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the dough out of the bowl, shape it into a ball and place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Let the dough rise again in a warm place for about 1 – 1.5 hours (you can knead the dough very briefly 1x – 2x during that time to let a fresh air into the dough) until double in size.
Bake the bread
Preheat oven to 200ºC (392ºF).
Once the dough has doubled the size, glaze it with the whisked egg and sprinkle with almond slices. You can also cut a cross into the dough on the top. Bake for about 10 minutes at 200ºC, then lower the temperature to 160ºC (320ºF) and bake for another 30 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Insert a skewer into the middle of the bread and if it comes out clean, the bread should be done.