This plaited bread is traditionally served with red Easter eggs that have been dyed to represent the blood of Christ, or red rosebuds. Is is also traditionally prepared with an essence drawn from the seeds of Mediterranean wild cherries, called mahlepi.
500 gm plain flour / strong bread flour
21 gm dried yeast
125 ml milk warmed
2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus extra for brushing
50 gm caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges
2 tsp mahlepi / cardamom
75 gm softened unsalted butter, coarsely chopped,
A handful of flaked almonds
Combine flour, yeast and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, form a well in the centre, set aside. Add milk, eggs, sugar, orange rind, mahlepi / cardamom and 100ml lukewarm water and mix until a soft dough forms (5-7 minutes). Gradually add butter, a little at a time, mixing until a smooth soft dough forms (3-5 minutes), place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size (60 – 90mins).
Knock back dough and divide into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a 45cm-long cylinder, plait pieces together, then tuck ends under to join. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and covered with a tea towel – set aside to prove slightly (30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 180C. Brush wreath with eggwash, sprinkle flaked almonds on top and bake until wreath is golden and cooked through (25-30 minutes). Cool on a wire rack, serve with chocolate spread. Greek Easter bread is best eaten the day it’s made.