If you want to serve this yeast plait fresh for breakfast, prepare the yeast dough to the end of step 4 the night before. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator overnight in a large bowl covered with cling wrap.
Lynn Lewis and Joachim Wahnschaffe
500 g (4 cups) plain flour
250 ml (1 cup) milk
85 g (1/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon (14 g) dry yeast
90 g (1/3 cup) butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated rind of 1 lemon
60 g (1/2 cup) sultanas
60 g (1/3 cup) slivered almonds
1 egg yolk, for brushing
60 g (1/3 cup) chopped almonds, for sprinkling
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Reserve a little flour and place the rest in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Heat 2 tbsp milk and 1 tsp sugar until lukewarm; sprinkle on yeast to dissolve. Pour the yeast mixture into the well; cover lightly with the reserved flour.
Cover bowl with a cloth; leave to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes until cracks are visible in the flour cover. Add the remaining milk and sugar, the butter and the salt and egg.
Knead into a smooth dough. Turn onto lightly floured work surface and knead and punch down for about 10 minutes until elastic and no longer sticky. Shape dough into a ball, place in a bowl. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Soak the sultanas in lukewarm water, then drain. Knead dough on lightly floured work surface and work in the lemon rind, sultanas and almonds.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces; roll pieces into ropes of equal length and weave into a plait. Push ends of dough together and fold just under plait. Place plait on the baking tray, cover with a cloth and let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C .
Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tbsp water. Brush over plait; sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Bake for 35 minutes. If loaf is becoming too dark, shield it with a piece of foil.
If you prefer to use fresh yeast in place of dry yeast, remember that dry yeast is twice as concentrated as fresh.
Try this, too…
For an Easter Nest, prepare dough as described in main recipe and divide into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and work all 5 strands together into a plait. Bend plait into a wreath and tuck in ends so that they are no longer visible. Traditionally, dyed hard-boiled eggs are placed between the woven strands of the plait and in the centre. The wreath is then baked as in the main recipe.