Rumanian Sweet Bread

Rumanian Szueet Bread is simply delicious sliced and spread with soft creamy butter and strawberry jam.

1-

6 oz. plus

2 teaspoons butter, cut into small pieces J oz. fresh yeast

6 oz. plus

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons lukewarm water

4 fit. oz. milk

2 lb. flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 fl. oz. sour cream

4 eggs, well beaten

2 egg yolks, well beaten

1 tablespoon brandy

2 oz. soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 oz. cup blanched almonds, chopped

Grease two 1-pound loaf tins with the 2 teaspoons of butter. Set aside.

Crumble the yeast into a small mixing bowl and mash in the 1 teaspoon of sugar with a kitchen fork. Add the water and cream the water and yeast together to form a smooth paste. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes or until the yeast is puffed up and frothy.

Meanwhile, scald the milk over moder-ate heat (bring to just below boiling point). Add the remaining butter and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside until the butter has melted and the mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

Sift the flour and salt into a warmed, large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining sugar. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast, the milk and butter mixture, sour cream and eggs. Using your fingers or a spatula, mix the liquids together, gradually drawing in the flour. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a floured board or marble slab and knead for 10 minutes, rcflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth. Set the bowl in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to U hours or until the dough has risen and has almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for 4 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf. Place the loaves in the tins, cover with a damp cloth and return to a warm, draught-free place for 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough has risen to the tops of the tins.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Place the egg yolks, brandy, sugar and allspice in a small mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to very hot 475 °F (Gas Mark 9, 240°C). Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to hot 425 F (Gas Mark 7, 220°C).

Remove the loaves from the oven. Using a pastry brush, coat the tops generously with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle over the almonds.

Return the loaves to the oven and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until the loaves are cooked and the undersides sound hollow when rapped with your knuckles.

Remove the loaves from the oven and set them aside to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

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