Let’s be straight. There’s a ton of different types of bread. Too many that we tend to lump them all into one category. In my mind, though, there is bread, and then there’s bread. Special bread, the kind that make you silently gasp, “Oh. My. Goodness!” This is one of those. Rich, buttery, without being over the top. The crust is sprinkled with coarse sugar and sesame seeds for an unexpected first bite. The braids are pretty fun to make as well, once you get the hang of it. Forget sandwich bread and make these special occasion babies. Trust me.
Grecian Sweet Braid (Choreki)
makes 4 loaves
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 packages yeast
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup dry nonfat milk
1 tsp ground aniseed
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 TB to sprinkle
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp
1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 TB milk
4 TB sesame seeds
sugar to sprinkle
In a mixer bowl measure 3 cups flour and add the yeast. Stir to blend. In a saucepan over low heat, add the water, dry milk, aniseed, butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Mix and heat until butter is soft, about 110 degrees or warm to the touch. Stir well and pour slowly into the dry ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes and then add the eggs. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough cleans the bowl. Knead 10 minutes with the dough hook.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and divide into 4 pieces. Cover with cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes. To shape, divide each of the dough portions into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into long ropes and braid then. Pinch the ends together. Repeat for the remaining dough portions.
Place the loaves on a baking sheet and cover with a clean towel. Let rise 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F about 20 minutes before baking. Before loaves go into the oven, brush the egg glaze over the braids. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then the 2 TB sugar.
Bake in the oven until well browned, about 15-20 minutes.Remove the bread and place on wire rack to cool. Enjoy!