I first posted this recipe last March when I started my blog. I am reposting it with better pictures and step by step instructions. I make this every year for my Dad at Christmas. The recipe was handed down to me by my Mom. I do not know the origin. It does take about 5 hours, start to finish due to multiple risings. I typically double the recipe, to make 4 loaves. This year I used King Arthur Bread Flour, and the results were better than ever! The only problem with this post is you can not smell the bread baking!
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the bottom of the mixing bowl (warm the mixing bowl and bread hook in hot water first)
1 cup half and half (my recipe calls for evaporated milk, which I don’t care for)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cardamom (make sure it is fresh)
2 eggs, slightly beaten in a separate bowl before adding to mixer
2 cups of flour (You will need 4 cups total)
Add the above ingredients to the mixing bowl. Using the bread hook attachment, stir the ingredients together on 1 or 2 until combined.
1/2 cup melted butter
Add the melted butter and continue to stir until mixture is smooth and glossy.
Add the remaining two cups flour. Continue mixing until dough is smooth, pulls away from sides of bowl, and forms a ball.
Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
Turn the mixer back on and “knead” the dough about 8 more minutes. (You can also turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead by hand, if you wish.)
Place dough in a buttered bowl. Cover and let raise one hour.
Punch down, flip, and let dough rise again until doubled. About 1 more hour.
Using your food scale, divide dough in half. (In half again if making a double batch – 4 loaves.) Divide each half into thirds. Roll into even stands. Braid the 3 strands together to form the loaves. Repeat for the other loaves.
Place on slightly greased parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover and let raise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375′. Before baking, brush each loaf with an egg wash and sprinkle with sparkly sugar of your choice. Bake about 10 minutes, rotate pans, bake another 10 minutes.
Merry Christmas Dad!