Greek Easter Bread

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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup warm water
  • dash of salt
  • dash of sugar
  • 2 pkgs. dry yeast
  • 4 3/4 s bread flour, divided

Directions

Place allspice and cinnamon in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Set aside. Combine water, dash of salt, dash of sugar and yeast in large bowl, stirring with whisk. Let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with knife. Add 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring until well combined. Let stand 20 minutes.
Place sugar and butter in large bowl; beat with mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in allspice mixture. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture; stir with whisk until well combined. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Add 3 1/2 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, stirring until soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until double in size. (Gently press 2 fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Divide dough into 3 equal portions, shaping each portion into 14-inch long rope. Place ropes lengthwise on baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch); pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until double in size.
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg yolk, stirring with whisk. Brush half of yolk mixture over loaf. Let stand 5 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining yolk mixture. Bake at 350° 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on wire rack 20 minutes.
This makes a beautiful, sweet, spiced loaf that is large enough to feed a crowd. Leftovers can make French toast. Makes about 20 slices.

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