For many people, this slightly sweet egg bread is synonymous with Easter. Many different European cultures, particularly Greeks and Italians, make different variations of this bread. This recipe is a simple interpretation that is perfect for someone trying it for the first time. Flavoured with orange zest and honey, it is delicious on its own. Any leftovers will be perfect for making French toast with.
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Mix 1 tbs sugar with ½ cup warm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. Combine the 1 cup milk, ¾ cup honey, 2 tbs butter, 1 tbs salt & orange zest in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer and them remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the 5 eggs and then add the yeast mixture followed by the milk mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the baking powder into the flour. Incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients one cup at a time until the mix forms a large wet dough. Place the dough in a large bowl that has been greased with vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.
After the dough has proved, turn it out on a floured work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic. If the dough is too sticky, fold in a little more flour.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a long thread. Lay the three threads out about 2 inches apart on a greased baking tray. Pinch the three threads together on one end and then braid them together, folding each thread over the other, alternating as you go. When you reach the end, pinch the three threads together. Brush the dough with vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Set the oven to 375ºF.
Combine 2 egg yolks with 2 tbs water and 1 tbs honey and brush the bread with the egg wash. Let sit for 5 minutes and then brush a second time.
Bake the bread in the oven at 375ºF until golden brown, for about 30 minutes.