Swiss Egg Braids

The same sweet, egg-rich dough may be used to make three different kinds of bread. Each kind is made of braided ropes of dough and baked on an ordinary metal baking sheet no special pans are needed.

1 cup milk 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 packages yeast, active dry or

compressed 1/2 cup warm water (lukewarm for compressed yeast)

5 cups unsifted all-purpose flour 1/2 cup 1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, melted and cooled to lukewarm

3 eggs, slightly beaten

Scald milk and pour over sugar and salt in a large bowl. Let cool to lukewarm. Blend yeast with water and let stand until softened; add to milk and sugar mixture. Beat in 2 cups of flour to make a smooth, thick batter. Cover and let stand in a warm place 45 minutes, or until light and foamy.

Add butter and eggs; blend thoroughly. Stir in 1/2 cups of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Sprinkle last 1/2 cup flour on board, then turn dough out onto the floured board; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Knead dough until it is smooth and satiny (this will take about 8 minutes).

Place in greased bowl, turn dough over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Punch down. Shaping and baking directions follow.

Swiss Egg Braids. Divide dough in half, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Then divide each half into thirds. Roll each portion of dough between hands to form a strand 12 inches long, VA inches in diameter. Place 3 strands on board; braid together. Pinch ends together and tuck under loaf. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat process to make second braid. Cover and let rise in warm place until nearly double, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Brush with 1 egg yolk slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.

Giant Cinnamon Braid. Set aside 1/2 of the dough for the top braid. Divide the remaining dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion between hands to form a strand 12 inches long, and 11 inches in diameter. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon on a large sheet of waxed paper. Roll each strand of dough in the mixture to coat all sides. Place the three strands on clean sheet of waxed paper; braid together. Pinch ends together and tuck under. Place on greased baking sheet.

Repeat process to make smaller braid with reserved dough, making 3 strands each 12 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Place on top of larger braid, pressing in lightly. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Brush loaf with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Cover loosely with foil if top begins to get too brown.) Cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Fruit-Filled Rings. While preparing dough, add 1 cup chopped candied fruits, 2 tablespoons vanilla, and 1 teaspoon rum flavoring with the butter and the eggs.

Before shaping dough, divide it in half, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Divide each half into thirds. Roll each portion of dough between hands to form a strand 20 inches long, 1 inch in diameter. Place 3 strands on board; braid together. Form braid into a ring; pinch ends together. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat process to make second ring. Cover and let rise in warm place until nearly double, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Brush with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water. Bake in a 350° oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool to warm and top with this glaze: Mix together 1 tablespoon soft butter or margarine and 1 cup sifted powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream; beat until blended and smooth. Makes 2 rings.

 

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