LOOKING for: Reliable sweet yeast bread recipe...

shamboApril 7, 2007

that's got a lot of eggs and milk in it. I'm trying to make Greek Easter Bread. It's the one thing none of my relatives have a recipe for, so I'm using a well-reviewed recipe from AllRecipes. Its on the first rise now, but I found the dough awfully sticky & difficult to knead.

The recipe called for 2 cups of milk, 2 packets of yeast, 1-3/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 8-9 cups flour. Is the stickiness just typical for such an eggy bread? Or is there a special technique I should be using?

Greek Easter bread is similar to a very rich & very sweet challah. The only unique characteristic is the use of a spice called mahleb. I finally ordered the mahleb online and really wanted to try my hand at making the bread. I thought maybe some of you have a better basic recipe that I could use, just adding some of the special spice.

Thanks for your help.

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tulsatb

Don't be deterred by the stickiness! A sticky/wet dough makes for great bread. Do you have a Silpat? A Silpat will help when you shape/braid the loaf. If not, just dust your work surface and hands as needed with as little flour as possible. You're on the right track.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 7:04PM
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lindac

I have my 3rd loaf in the oven...
I used 2 cups milk and 4 eggs, 2/3 cup honey 2 tsps salt and i stick of butter...Oh yes and 2 packets of yeast ( actually 2 T. yeast a little more than 2 packets)
I didn't measure the flour....just kept adding and stirring until it was stiff enough to turn out of the bowl and knead...
Yes it's a but sticky...but not impossibly so....
Haven't tasted it...but it's really beautiful!...I'll take a picture in a bit and post it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 7:19PM
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lindac

The picture is a little odd, I was using natural light....and it was a bit late in the day....but here are 2 loaves....the 3rd went to the neighbor.
This dough was sticky when I shaped it.....I presume it tastes as good as it looks....at least I hope it does.

Linda C
    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 7:34PM
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shambo

Thanks for the encouragement, Tulsatb. Linda, your quantities sound similar to the recipe I was using. I guess I panicked needlessly. Even though the dough was sticky, I kept myself from adding more flour than called for. I also let it rest for about 20 minutes before beginning kneading. That seemed to allow the flour to absorb the liquid more evenly.

I think, though, I should have baked the loaves at 350 rather than the 375 called for in the recipe. What temperature do you use, Linda? And for how long? I did at least remember your hint about covering the loaves lightly with foil if the tops were browning too quickly.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 12:41AM
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jessyf

Try oiling your hands instead of flouring. And I second the Silpat suggestion!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 1:17AM
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lindac

I started them out at 375 and when I saw how quickly they were browning I turned the oven back to 350.
I used 2 ovens ( remember, there were 3 loaves) and in one oven they seemed done in 30 minutes, the other I left in longer....about 35 to close to 40 minutes. And I didn't need to tent it with foil.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 9:43AM
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shambo

Thanks for all the tips. I typed them up with the recipe I used. The bread came out pretty good but with an overly dark crust. The texture was a bit dry too. I'm assuming that's because the oven temperature was too hot, and I probably should have taken it out sooner.

However, I loved the mahleb flavor. I hadn't tasted Greek Easter bread with that particular spice since my days in Los Angeles years ago.

Any additional hints for making a lighter, moister bread? I read that using water instead of milk produces a less dense bread. What do you think? However, I don't want to end up with fluffy bread.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 6:49PM
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lindac

My bread was pretty damn well perfect...if I do say so myself...
Not "fluffy"...not too dense....and the small abount of anise seeds I added to one loaf was just right....all the grand kids that would have said "Ewww!! Ick" if I had said I would be adding anise thought it was wonderful.
Remember, you need to take the bread's temperature.
Any way to describe the flavor of Mahleb? Does Penzy's carry it?
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 10:11PM
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shambo

Linda, mahleb is like cardamom, hard to describe. It's made from the pit of the sour cherry and is used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, especially sweet breads.

This is how some sites describe its taste: "Mahleb tastes somewhat nutty and bitter." "...quite sweet with notes of cherry and almond. Some describe it as resembling marzipan."
"... a combination of fragrant rosewater-like sweetness and a nutty and faintly bitter, but not unpleasant aftertaste." "Because of its fragrant character and potential for bitterness, use it sparingly, 1/2 to 1 tsp to 2 cups of flour in a recipe."

"Especially in Greece, mahleb is loved for specialties like tsoureki [ÏÏοÏÏέκι], a brioche-type braided sweet bread that is traditionally baked and eaten only at Easter time." That's what I was trying to make.

Penzey's doesn't carry it, but The Spice House does.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Spice House

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 1:07AM
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lindac

One more think I better have.
Thanks for the explanation.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 10:03AM
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shambo

Linda, I liked your idea of adding anise to the bread. I love anise flavored breads like pannettone. I also love the addition of cardamom. Since your recipe makes three loaves, maybe I'll use it next time and flavor each loaf differently. The bread I baked makes wonderful breakfast toast, so imagine the fun I'd have with three different flavors to choose from each morning. So much for cholesterol-fighting oatmeal!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 1:15PM
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