Lithuanian Easter bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes + resting time + leavening time
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Keywords: bake bread flour egg yolk milk Easter
Ingredients (1 loaf)
- 250 ml non-fat milk at 95 F / 35 C
- 2 tablespoons / 28 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 large egg yolks from pastured poultry / 75 g
- 20 g fluid honey or agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml vanilla extract
- 4.5 g instant yeast
- 80 g whole-wheat flour
- 340 g King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour (this is the flour I always use to make bread)
- 3 g fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup / 70 g raisins (see Notes below)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons / 22.5 ml water
- 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds (see Notes below)
Important: for this bread I use delayed fermentation, so the preparation starts the evening before baking.
Notes: 1) White (a.k.a., golden) raisins are traditional, but I have organic flame raising and organic Thompson raisins at home, so I used those. 2) I added poppy seeds as topping the third time I made the bread and it was a good choice — festive too. (As an aside, Lithuanian Christmas bread is topped with poppy seeds.)
Place the first five dough ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to break the yolks.
Add yeast and whisk a bit more.
Add the other dough ingredients to the bowl and stir until they come together into a shaggy dough. Cover the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
Stir dough for another minute. (If you use a wooden spoon, dampen it before stirring so the dough doesn't stick to it.)
Oil a clean bowl or dough-rising bucket and transfer dough into it. With damp hands pull the dough gently on one side and fold it over towards the opposite side, then do the same on the opposite side, as if you were folding a sheet of paper into thirds to put into an envelope. Since the dough is inside a bowl the result will not be a rectangle, but that is fine. Turn the folded dough upside-down, keeping it still inside the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or piece of plastic wrap. If you use a dough-rising bucket, put the lid on. Refrigerate the dough overnight.
The morning after, take the bowl or bucket out of the refrigerator. Line a 9" x 5" / 23 x 12.5 cm loaf pan with parchment paper and oil the two sides not covered by it.
Empty the container onto a lightly floured surface. Gently flatten the dough into a longish rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds lengthwise, like a letter, then fold in half along the same direction and press the seam to close it tightly. Lightly roll to make a cylinder that fits the loaf pan.
Transfer the rolled dough into the prepared pan, seam side down, cover with shower cap or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled. How long it takes depends in part on the room temperature. (In my case, about 2 1/2 hours.)
When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven to 350 F / 177 C. If you have the convection bake option use it (and, if your oven does not do it automatically, adjust the temperature accordingly).
Whisk water into egg yolk for the wash. With a pastry brush, paint some egg wash on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle poppy seeds. (You will not use all of the egg wash: leftover can be added to a frittata; I also added it to puréed lentils to make patties.)
Place loaf pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Check internal temperature. If it is 190 F / 88 C, the bread is done, otherwise continue baking until the internal temperature is reached.
Take the loaf out of the pan and place it on a cooling rack.
When completely cooled, slice and enjoy.