English Saffron Bread
Happy Healthy Holidays!
The exotic scents of safron and lemon will fill your kitchen when you bake this beautiful braided English Easter bread.
1-1/2 cups milk, softened
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons saffron
1/2 cup hot water
2 packages (.25 ounce) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
6 cups all purpose flour
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat; add butter, sugar and stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the hot water, let cool until lukewarm, drain and reserve the liquid.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk mixture with the reserved saffron water and eggs. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest and 4 cups of the flour; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2-cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about eight minutes.
Lightly oil a large mixing, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about one hour.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, form into 14-inch long 'ropes'. Braid the 'ropes' together and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake at 350-degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a wire rack and cool.