We know that Katie loves to invite the ‘Council Of Twelve’ over for dinner. She cares for each one of the Council members and wants them more to feel like a real family. Now, we also know, Katie isn’t a naturally talented cook. But that does not keep her away from trying. Lately, she got a recipe for European bread, a rare recipe that’s normally inherited within the family. The last family member does not have kids and wants Katie to have it. Let’s see what she did with it.
2.2- lbs flour
3.5 ounces unsalted butter
2.08 cups milk
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cube fresh yeast
The flour goes into a big sturdy bowl. With a spoon ‘shovel’ the flower in the middle towards the outside and create a deep ‘hole’ in the middle.
The salt goes on the outside, where the most flour is. Don’t mix it with the middle, please.
Pour half a cup milk into a coffee mug, the rest of the milk into a pan. The unsalted butter goes into the pan as well. Carefully and slowly heat up milk and butter together until the butter is liquid.
In the coffee mug add the sugar and carefully pluck the fresh yeast into pieces. Add it to the milk and sugar and leave it there for about 15 – 20 minutes to activate the yeast. (The fresh yeast is hard to find in supermarkets but can be ordered online.) Occasionally stir the liquid until the yeast is viscous and softened.
One egg and the egg white of the second egg go into the deep middle in the flour bowl. The yolk of the other egg putt aside into a coffee cup or mug and put it into the fridge.
When the butter is liquid and the milk warm, let them cool for a moment. It’s better they’re not used boiling hot, or you’re burning your hands. – As soon as they’ve cooled down, pour them in the deep middle of the bowl where the eggs are. At the end add the mug with the milk, sugar, and yeast and add it, but make sure you don’t mix it with the salt.
Start stirring the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture turns halfway into a crumbly dough, then turn the bowl upside down and get the mixture out, onto a clean and sturdy surface. Use your hands to clean out the bowl and then start kneading the mixture until you have one compact dough.
Continue kneading now and start working some air into the dough. Knead for at least ten minutes, then the dough goes back into the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a warm, humid, clean towel and place the bowl for around 90 minutes in a very warm room to let the dough rise. (Under no circumstances try to invent ‘technics’ to accelerate that process. It’s first of all, useless because it’s the yeast that is growing and does that quite slowly, and second, if you involve your oven or stove, all you will have is a slight ‘crust’ on the surface of the dough, which will ruin the bread.)
After 90 minutes, check the dough. It should have been grown significantly.
Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into two pieces. One of them put aside. The other one is cut into two pieces again. Take the two pieces then and carefully flatten them on the surface to get the needless air out.
Now start carefully rolling both ‘quarters’ of the dough into long (approx 40 – 45 inches) rolls. If your dough has risen as he was planned to rise, that length should be possible). Cross both rolls in the middle and start braiding them. One side goes ‘down South’, the other one goes up to the opposite side. It’s actually quite simple. In case one is confused and doesn’t know how to do it, there are videos on YouTube.
Repeat the same thing with the second half of the dough. By now you should have two braided bread loaves on one or two oven trays.
Now, cover the loaves again with the humid warm kitchen towel and move it back into the warm room for another 45 minutes.
The bread will rise again. See the difference here:
Now, keep the towels on the bread and set them into a cool, almost cold place. (not the fridge or freezer) for about 10 – 15 minutes. This is going to ‘shock’ the yeast into ‘a coma’. Means, from that cold moment on, it won’t grow anymore.
Then get the mug or cup with the leftover egg yolk from the fridge and add a teaspoon of milk. Stir until you get a pale yellow liquid which you carefully apply to the bread with a common household brush. If you don’t have one, just use the back of the teaspoon. But don’t press, just carefully brush over the bread, otherwise, you’ll have lots of bulges and pockets in the bread surface.
Now, place the trays in the cold oven, don’t pre-heat! Bake it on 375 degrees F. for about 30 to 35 minutes until the egg yolk on the bread is golden-yellow. Under no circumstances open the oven during the first 20 minutes. It might be your bread is sinking within itself and you’ll get flat loaves.
Leave the loaves on the trays for another five minutes to make sure the bottom is crusty, then remove them from the tray and put them on a lattice or grid to let it cool.
Katie served the Council Of Twelve braided bread like that: