Sweet braided bread

History

A sweet pastry made of yeast dough baked to a golden brown, dating back to the Middle Ages. Over several centuries, the Christmas cake has been called by various names, such as calta or Striezel (a term used in Germany for the related Christmas stollen). It became an essential part of the Christmas Eve dinner. The bottom four strands represent earth, sun, water and air, the middle three strands connect reason, will and emotion, and the top braid combines knowledge and love.In some regions, it was traditional that if a Christmas sweet braided bread was burnt, someone in the family would fall ill in the coming year.  In other areas, the housewife was not allowed to speak while making the dough.

Ingredients

  • 1000 g semi-coarse flour                                            
  • 250 g granulated sugar                                                   
  • 60 g yeast                                                                               
  • 200 g butter                                                                       
  • 10 g salt                                                                                  
  • 5 dcl milk                                                                            
  • 4 eggs/yolks                                                         
  • 100 g raisins                                                     
  • 100 g almond flakes
  • Peel of 1 lemon

Instruction

  1. Prepare a sourdough starter with yeast, a teaspoon of sugar and 100 ml of lukewarm milk and let it rise.
  2. In a bowl (or in a food processor), beat the egg yolks, butter and sugar.
  3. After a while, add the leavening, flour, salt, milk and lemon zest and knead the dough.
  4. Knead it until it sticks to the bowl.
  5. Make a smooth and elastic dough.
  6. Add the raisins last and mix gently to keep them whole.
  7. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, work through and leave to rise again for an hour.
  8. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
  9. Once risen, divide the dough into 2 x 9 equal parts, roll out the same length rolls, knit the bottom part of four parts, then three parts and the last two parts, let rise for a while and then stack them (4-3-2), deepening each tier a little so that it will hold its shape while baking. Let rise again for about 15 minutes.
  10. Once the rolls are risen, preheat the oven to 160°C, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 min until golden. After baking, dust it with icing sugar.

Renewal

Instead of raisins, you can add dried cranberries, which are softer and do not need to be soaked beforehand.

If someone likes it sweeter, it is possible to increase the amount of sugar used in the dough.

To make the strands stick together better when baking, a skewer can be stuck into the wafer from top to bottom in several places and removed after baking.

The dough for the spring roll is the same as for the Easter loaf. However, it is not kneaded, but formed into smaller or larger loaves.

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