posted by Sisko 04-30-101 3:35 AM
2 cups milk
2 oz. active fresh yeast
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups wheat flour
2-3 sticks butter
1 tbsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup raisins
Brushing: 1 egg, beaten
Decoration: almond slices or crushed nuts, granulated sugar
Take the ingredients into room temperature two hours before baking; cold ingredients cool and flatten the dough. Warm the milk (in the microwave) until hand warm, check the temperature by dropping a few drops on the back of your hand; shouldn't feel neither hot nor cool.
Crush the yeast into a bowl, add the milk and mix until the yeast has disssolved. Add sugar, salt, cardamom and egg. Add half of the flour, you'll have a thick, porridgey mixture. Mix vigorously. Add the other half of the flour, knead by hand until the dough is bouncy and airy. The last addition is the butter, in room temperature. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and rubbery and loosens from the hand and the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels too sticky, add flour, litte by little. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for at least 20 minutes.
Tip the dough onto a floured table and knead the raisins into the dough, until smooth. Divide the dough in two, and each part into four equal parts. Roll each part into a "snake", equal length. Assemble four of the snakes crossing each other in the middle, and braid them, tuck the ends under. Repeat with the other one.
Lift the braids on a heavy duty oven sheet (no high edges), lined with baking parchment. Preheat the oven into 350°F. Let them rise under a kitchen towel (I use a paper version during this stage - lighter) until almost double in size.
Brush the braids with beaten egg, sprinkle with almons slices and granulated sugar. Bake them for 25-30 minutes, or until dark gold in color. They should sound hollow when tapped onto the bottom, when they are done.
Let them cool under a clean towel on a rack, just until they are still warm but can be cut. Cut thick slices and serve with ice-cold milk.
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