Greece is a meeting place between East and West, its cuisine mixing classical Mediterranean cooking with "oriental" influences from the Middle East. Greek food remains true to its roots, like ancient philosopher Epicurus' dictum to "live well and enjoy the simple things in life."
This bread is only baked on Good Friday. It is the traditional Greek Easter Bread. A red egg is place in the center of the bread, it represents the blood of Christ.
This will make one large round loaf and several smaller loaves.
4 to 5 lbs. flour, sifted
1 tablespoon salt
4 yeast cakes, dissolved in 1 cup of warm water
10 eggs, beaten with 2-1/2 cups sugar
2 cubes, butter, melted in 1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons anise
3 eggs yolks
1/3 cup sesame seed
5 hard-boiled eggs, dyed red
Boil the allspice and anise in 1 cup of water and strain well, reserving the water. Place 4 lbs. of sifted flour and salt in a large bowl, and make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the yeast with water and the eggs with the sugar and milk. Do not knead at this time. Add the melted butter and milk and the reserved liquid from the allspice and anise. Mix this with your hands to blend the ingredients. Add more flour if it is needed. Then knead until the dough is smooth.
Place the dough on a floured board and knead until firm, smooth and not sticky. Brush the dough with some melted butter, cover and set in a warm place to rise until double in size. Knead again, brush with butter and allow this to rise until it is double in size. Repeat this one more time.
The traditional Greek Easter bread is baked in a large round pan, about 12-inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. You can make smaller loafs as Easter gifts.
Place about 2/3 of the dough in a greased pan, and divide the rest of the dough for smaller pans. You can press one red Easter egg in the center of the dough and the other four around the edge. Cover the pan and let rise for several hours. When risen, brush the dough with egg yolks. Sprinkle the top of the bread with sesame seeds, and place one Easter egg in each of the smaller loafs, brush them with the egg yolks and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake about 45 min., according to the size of your pans, until the bread is brown and the dough inside does not stick to a knife. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven.
Copyright © Judy McCann, 1998-2006