LITHUANIAN HOLIDAY BREAD
"This warm holiday bread celebrates the warmth of home and family—anytime of the year."Serves Makes 2 loaves—about 8 s | Prep Time 2-1/2 hours (Includes ri | Cook Time 45 minutes
3/4 cup diced, peeled potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces (plus 1 tablespoon for greasing bowl)
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 packets active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced mixed candied fruit
3/4 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Put potatoes and 1-3/4 cups water in a small saucepan, boil until potatoes are tender. Drain and reserve 1/3 cup liquid. Mash potatoes in pan until smooth; add reserved potato liquid, milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat until butter is melted and liquid is warm (120˚F); sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes.
Place mixture in bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add remaining sugar, eggs, egg yolk, zest, vanilla, and nutmeg; beat until well mixed. Add 1 cup flour and salt; beat on medium for 2 minutes.
Change attachment to dough hook. Add 3 cups flour. Turn mixer to low speed to mix well. If necessary, use a spatula to scraps side and bottom to incorporate flour.
Add candied fruit and raisins. Beat/knead dough on low speed for 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and firm, adding more flour as necessary if dough is very sticky. Smooth dough into a ball.
Place dough in large bowl greased with 1 tablespoon butter and turn dough over; cover bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down and divide into six equal portions; roll each portion into a 12-inch rope, braiding 3 ropes together and sealing ends under. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes. Place on a large parchment-lined insulated baking sheet(s). Cover; place in a warm place until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake loaves for 35 minutes, covering with foil after 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
For glaze, stir sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat; boil 1 minute and stir in almond extract. After bread has baked 35 minutes, brush with hot glaze. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes or until loaves test done. Best served warm with butter.
Pairs Well With
Tea or coffee
While we generally had this Eastern European bread in our home to celebrate Easter, it was a favorite year-round. My entire family (aunts, uncles and grandparents too!) usually purchased this bread at a local bakery—it was so good that my parents didn’t usually make it in our home. Sadly, a recipe was never written down. As an adult, I craved this delicious bread of my childhood and was determined to develop a recipe to share this culinary heritage with my children. As potatoes were a staple in many Lithuanian meals, adding cooked potatoes to the batter provided a soft and tender texture. Now every Easter and Christmas, the tradition continues—we have Lithuanian Holiday Bread. And the family heritage continues—my daughter makes the bread for her family too!