Preliminary warning: This is an unusually long Instructable, my longest so far at least, but don't get discouraged. The common thing in these exceptionally tasty treats is the sweet dough they are all made of. For this reason, if you wish to make only one them, just go through the "how to make the dough" part then continue with the description of the sweet bread of your choice. Happy baking!
I come from Hungary, Middle - Europe. Sweet bread is very popular here all year round, but Christmas and Easter is simply unimaginable without kalács, the braided and normally sweet bread. Normally - as it is also eaten in a salty version on Easter morning with freshly cooked ham and boiled eggs. It took me a long time to discover the best ever dough recipe, that is absolutely easy to work with, tender and does not become dry overnight. In fact, I learned this recipe from a real baker. The icing on the cake is that the dough itself is absolutely versatile. As you will see, you can use the basic recipe in various forms with all sorts of fillings, nuts and fruits of your choice. Feel free to experiment!
Step 1: Preparing the Sweet Dough
400 g flour
7 g dried yeast
150 ml lukewarm milk
60 g softened butter
60 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
Gather the ingredients, Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, make a hole in the middle and pour the milk, add 1 spoon of sugar and the yeast. Using a spoon, cover the top of the milk with some flour. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel. Let it sit until the yeast gets foamy (about 5-10 minutes).
Add the rest of the ingredients: the whole egg, the egg yolk, the remaining sugar, the salt and the butter. Equip the stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed until the dough is soft and silky. Then transfer it to the kitchen countertop and form it into a ball as seen on the video. Using a stand mixer makes life so much easier, however you can do the whole kneading process by hand as on the video. Put the dough back into the bowl with some flour underneath and on top of the dough, cover with a plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. In the last photo, you can see two batches of dough, before and after rising.
Here comes the fun part, I am showing you how to prepare classic sweet bread, chocolate spirals, poppy seed cream sweet bread and poppy seed wreaths.
Hint: prepare the dough in the evening and put it in the fridge to rise. It will be ready for use in the morning.
Step 3: Plain Sweet Bread (Kalács)
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into three approximately same sized parts. Form them into smaller balls then roll them on the countertop - just like kids do with play-doh - until each one is formed into a rope.. Line the ropes side-by-side, then press together the top on one end.
Step 4: Braiding
The technique is absolutely simple. You take the rope on the left, lift it and put is between the other two. Then do the same thing with the one on the right. You keep doing this alternating between right and left until there is no more dough left.
Step 5: Braiding - Video
You should end up with something like this. Cover your kalács once again and let sit for about half an our. Make sure to place it in a warm and first and foremost draught - free place.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
After half an hour the dough will have considerably risen. Apply egg wash (mix one yolk with 2 tablespoons of milk) scatter with decorating sugar. Then put it in the preheated oven (180 C).
Hint: Put a handful of ice cubes into the oven, it will help your bread to stay soft and tender!
Bake until golden brown.
Step 8: Six - Braided Bread With Poppy Seed
While the dough rises prepare the poppy seed filling.
250g ground poppy seed
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 g softened butter
130 g milk
Boil the milk, combine the rest of the ingredients, and mix them. Pour the hot milk, and give it a thorough mix.
Same amount of dough, divide it into three equal parts. I know it definitely looks like four in the photo: the reason why is just for my own convenience and to show you one of my favorites, the poppy seed apple wreath, that will shortly follow. So, if you go for the six braid bread, start with dividing the dough into three parts .
Step 10: Filling
Roll out one part, spread the poppy seed filling evenly, leaving 1 cm on the edge empty. Roll the dough into a rope, repeat the process twice more.
Step 11: Braiding - Another Way
Cut each rope lengthwise, gather them into two bundles and form them into an X shape as in the photo.
Follow the technique seen on the video to do form the bread.
Let sit, covered, for about half an hour.
Apply egg wash.
Step 12: Ready to Eat
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius and bake the bread until golden brown.
For me it took about 30 minutes, but it may vary depending on your oven. If you feel that the top is starting to get too brown, but you think that it needs more baking, cover the top with tin foil.
Hint: Throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven when you start baking. It will help your bread to stay soft and tender.
Step 13: Poppy Seed Wreath With Apple
Follow the steps described above related to the six-braid bread:
- prepare the dough (see steps 1-2.), set aside to rise,
- prepare the poppy seed filling (step 8),
- get ready with the filled ropes (steps 9-10).
Pull the ropes a little lengthwise and cut them into two. They should be as thick as a woman's thumb and about 30 cm long to arrive at nice one-man portions in the end. Cut the ropes lengthwise and twist two of them together. Cut an apple in half, remove the seeds. Form it into a circle and place an apple in the middle.
Let sit, covered for about 30 minutes.
Apply egg wash.
Hint: It also works well with half-cooked quince.
Bake it in the preheated oven (180 Celsius) for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. After it's ready, if you want to make it real fancy you can scatter rose sugar over it prepared beforehand. How to make rose sugar follows up next.
Hint: Throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven when you start baking. It will help your wreaths to stay soft and tender.
Step 15: Rose Sugar- the Star of Decoration
Get a handful of ecological red rose petals, approximately 150 g of sugar and a mortar. Put the sugar and the rose petals into the mortar, start hitting and pressing. You'll see the sugar getting purple and forming into larger granules very soon. Spread it on a piece of parchment paper and wait 1-2 days till it gets completely dry. Store it in an airtight container.
Step 16: Chocolate Spiral
This is what we are aiming at.
Use the same sweet dough, one batch should be enough to make 20-25 spirals.
Knead the dough as written above, set is aside to rise (steps 1-2). While the dough rises, use your time to prepare the filling of the spirals.
Step 17: Chocolate Filling
120 ml milk
30 g cocoa
30 g flour
150 g sugar
1 egg white
15 g butter
100 g + 90 g chocolate chips (or ordinary dark chocolate chopped)
Boil the milk with the cocoa. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar and egg white, then add it to the hot milk and cook it, stirring continuously, until the mixture gets denser. Remove from the heat, add the butter and 90 g of chocolate, let it melt, then mix. It is very important to wait until the chocolate cream cools to room temperature.
Step 18: Preparing the Spiral
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into two parts, roll one of them out to get an approximately 30x40cm rectangle (3-4 mm thick).
Spread the chocolate cream on half of the dough, leaving about 1 cm empty round on the edges. Fold the other half over. Cut the dough into 2 cm stripes (for me pizza cutter proved the best solution). Lift one of the stripes and start twisting it straight onto a parchment paper to form spiral.
Cover the spirals with a kitchen tower for half an hour.
Apply egg wash.
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius, bake them until golden brown.