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December 14, 2021
We’re in the foothills of Easter and I’ve wondered why celebratory cakes from England, Israel, and Greece are all quite similar. Hot Cross Buns, Challah and Tsoureki all vary a little around a brioche type of cake bread. A similar Panettoni form of bread was also a Roman favourite.
The practice of eating Easter bread or sweetened communion bread goes back to Byzantium and the Orthodox Christian church. As Michael often tells me, so much started with the Greeks! Based on anecdotal evidence from classical texts the recipe for sweetened or honey-leavened bread may date back as far as the Homeric Greek period. Greek Easter bread recipe to follow soon.
Ingredients:500g plain flour175ml warm milk75g sugar75g unsalted butter (room temp)60g raisins60g currants60g candied peel10g yeast2 tbsp warm water2 eggs½ tsp salt¼ tsp ground cinnamonPinch of nutmegPinch of all spice
For the crosses:25g plain flour2 tbsp cold water1 tsp sunflower oil
For the glaze:2 tbsp marmalade (no pieces)
Method:In a large bowl, place the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice. Make a well in the centre and add the milk, water, eggs and softened butter. Mix this until it all comes together, then turn out onto a floured worksurface and knead for 5-8 mins, until dough becomes less sticky, more elastic, and smooth. Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave in a warm dark place to prove for a 1½ - 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Once risen, place dough on a floured surface and knead again for a minute then flatten out. Add 1/3 of the fruit and peel, knead, and repeat 2 more times. Once all is incorporated place dough back in the bowl with clingfilm and put in a warm dark place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When risen, grease a 2lb loaf tin, then divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and knead each one into an oblong shape. Place these upright next to each other in the tin, then cover and put back in a warm dark place to rise for about an hour. Once ready, heat oven to 160⁰C (fan) then mix the flour, oil and water until smooth then place in a small piping bag and pipe the crosses on all 10 tops.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 - 40 mins, until golden. When the loaf is ready, take out the oven and place on a wire rack. Gently heat the marmalade (no pieces) and then brush over the top. Allow to cool before slicing.
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