There's nothing quite as warming on a cold day as golden bread baking in the oven and this weekend I've had the pleasure to experience this twice. Who needs radiators in this sub-zero weather when the oven never sleeps?
On my way home on Friday I called my friend D, and while we didn't really have plans to meet, we got to talking and the next thing I know she's at my house with a cooler and a recipe. She found this great recipe on Allrecipes.com a while back and has been making it ever since with great results. While we were waiting for the bread to rise I separated a few eggs to age some egg whites for macaroon experimentation tomorrow and made these Turkish Coffee Pots de Creme with the egg yolks.
To be honest, I didn't really like them. The recipe worked like a charm and they baked up nicely into a thick, creamy custard, but I think the cardamom flavor was a bit too strong for my taste. But if you love cardamom, you should really give this a try.
Anyways, back to the fabulous bread! D wrapped up and took the 4 loaves she made home with her when she left around 2 am and I went to sleep, but when I woke up I could still smell the bread and since there was no bread to be found all I could think of is making some for myself. Lucky for me, D forgot her recipe on the counter. I promise, I didn't steal it, hide it or anything....I think. Anyways, it just so happens that I had everything needed on hand and I had just enough time to pop the pretty loaves into the oven when my friend K rang the buzzer. A while ago she and I planned a Frenchie inspired foodie day, but as the day drew closer everyone else dropped out and it was up to K and me to keep the plans alive, so while the bread was baking we popped a bottle of bubbly, the cork narrowly missing my eye and the glass cabinet full of fragile tea cups and glassware, and started on the macaroons. The plan was to make hazelnut macaroons filled with a chocolate honey ganache I had made that morning...but when we got started I realized I had almost no powdered sugar. Woops. Oh, well, we decided. We'll just go with it, anything you make with sugar, hazelnuts, and egg whites has got to be good. And once you fill the hazelnut meringues with ganache (see how I changed the cookie name as if that's what we meant to make all along? you didn't see anything...) they came out great!
But in my opinion the best part, aside from having a good friend over to chat and tinker in the kitchen, was the bread.
K brought some fabulous ham and cheese because originally we were going to make savory crepes, but with the beautiful bread cooling on the counter K suggested making grilled cheese sandwiches instead. Genius! I mean look at this:
Wait,look, another angle to get the full affect of this amazing deliciousness:
I don't mean to get obnoxious here, but that sandwich was fabulous, so I'd recommend that you either scroll back up to the link with the recipe and make it right away...oh what am I saying, don't leave. Stay, I'll even give you the recipe right here:
Braided Egg Bread
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110F degrees)
2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water
11 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Proof yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine hot milk, sugar, butter, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Cool to 110 degrees.
- In small bowl, slightly beat 5 eggs, then add to cooled milk mixture. Add milk mixture to yeast mixture. Add 2 cups flour and beat until smooth. Slowly add remaining flour until it forms a stiff dough. Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes (5 minutes with a bread hook). Place in a large glass or plastic bowl lightly greased. Turn dough over to grease both sides. Cover and let rise in a warm, dark place until doubled in volume, approximately 60 minutes.
- Punch down, cover, and let rise again until double, approximately 30 minutes.
- Punch again, and form into three parts. Form each part into a 20-inch roll. Braid rolls on a large, greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled.
- Lightly beat remaining egg and brush loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for about 55 minutes until nicely browned. May be made into two regular sized loaves. Reduce baking time slightly.