When I was a kid, I had waist length hair that my mother used to patiently braid everyday. The day she declared I was old enough to take care of myself and I needed to braid my hair, I ran to the nearest salon and chopped off my hair to neck length. That shows how amazing I have always been at braiding. I thought the problem was solved almost 20 years ago but it has returned to haunt me now in the form of braiding the bread and there seems to be no escape now. Thought this time, the problem was not with the braiding but my decision to take a smaller baking pan.
My bread for today is Kolach which is the traditional centerpiece of the Ukrainian Christmas table. Named for its shape (“kolo” means ring or circle), kolach is a wreath-shaped or round bread, formed with elaborate braids and twists of dough. They can range from the merely decorative to the baroque in complexity. The dough is a moderately rich one, with most of the liquid coming from milk, eggs, and butter. The effect of all this enrichment is surprisingly light and fluffy bread. Traditionally, this bread is stacked three rings high, with a candle burning in the middle.
Country – Ukrain
Makes one 10″ loaf
Recipe adapted from here
WHAT WE NEED
All purpose flour 1 1/3 cups
Instant yeast 1 tsp heaped
Sugar 2 tsp
Olive oil 2 tsp
Lukewarm water 7 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Milk for glaze 1-2 tbsp
WHAT TO DO
- Beat the egg till thick, around 2 minutes
- Add yeast, sugar, oil and water and mix well
- Add flour and salt and knead for to a smooth dough around 8-10 minutes by hand
- Place the dough in a greased bowl covered with cling wrap and set aside till doubles, around 1 hour
- Punch down the dough and let it double again, around 1 hour
- Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and divide it into 3 equal parts
- Shape each part into a long rope (around 12″ in length)
- Join the three ropes at one end and braid them till the end and tuck the ends under the dough
- Grease an 10″ roundaking dish and place the braided dough inside it in a circle with the centre being empty, like a doughnut
- Cover and let it rise for around 45 minutes, or almost double
- Preheat the oven to 175C
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or till the top starts browning
- Remove the loaf and brush the milk on top of the bread
- Bake for another 5-7 minutes or till the top is nicely brown
- Let it cool fully before tearing into it
- The bread can also be baked in the oblong shape in which case, you need to use a baking tray and not a round dish. I chose the round pan because I already did the oblong shape with Challah
- I have done the 4 string braid for this bread but you can do a 3 string braid as well
- Since I used an 8″ pan instead of a 10″ one, my bread expanded and fused into its layers, else the braids are distinctly visible even after baking.
This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘U’.