Holiday Easter Bread

Delicious!!!

Pretty easy to make, but boy did I dirty so many mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, etc!!!

And I made one large loaf rather than two.

TOTAL TIME
3 ½ hours

For the Sponge

  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup currants (30 grams)
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (100 grams)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries (125 grams)
  • 1/4 cup diced dried apricots or dried mango (30 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon rum (Note: I used Grand Marinier)
  • 2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (500 grams), plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds (70 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Sugar or pearl sugar for topping, optional

Preparation

1.
Make the sponge: Put 1 cup milk in a medium bowl, add yeast and let dissolve. Whisk in 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour. Cover bowl and leave in a warm place until doubled in size and very frothy, about 30 minutes.
2.
Put currants, raisins, cranberries and apricots in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Leave 10 minutes, then drain. Return to bowl and stir in rum.
3.
Beat 2 eggs and 2 of the yolks. Add the beaten eggs, melted butter and almond extract to sponge and stir together. Stir in dried fruit.
4.
In a large bowl mix together 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, anise seeds, cardamom, orange zest, lemon zest and almonds. Pour sponge mixture over flour mixture and combine, stirring with a spoon or hands until it forms a shaggy, slightly sticky mass. Dust lightly with flour and turn dough out onto a clean work surface. Knead for a few minutes until smooth, dusting with a minimal amount of flour if necessary, to make a soft dough. (If desired, dough may be refrigerated overnight in a large zippered storage bag. Bring to room temperature and proceed with recipe.)
5.
Put dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Punch down dough and knead lightly. Divide dough in half with knife and form two loaves; they can be round, braided or free-form. Place side by side on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a 4-inch space between them (or use 2 smaller baking sheets). Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat oven to 350 degrees.
6.
Make the egg wash: with a fork, beat together the remaining egg yolk and the milk. Uncover loaves and brush generously with egg wash. Sprinkle each loaf with 2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon pearl sugar), if desired. Bake on middle rack for 45 minutes or until loaves are a dark, glossy brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
YIELD
2 loaves, New York Times, March 22, 2013, David Tanis 
Original article can be found here.