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This is a semisweet yeast bread that is pleasingly light yet pleasingly dense once it meets your mouth. It is the perfect pairing alongside a pipping hot cup of coffee.
Note: all ingredients should be warm or at the very least room temperature to help the dough rise faster.
Mix warm water and yeast in a small bowl, set aside.
Into a large bowl add flour. Make a hole with your hands in the center of the flour and add the sugar, orange and lemon zest, salt and spices, vanilla and canola oil and mix with your hands. Add hot milk and mix again with your hands. Once the dough ingredients are fully incorporated, add the 5 eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Then add the yeast and water mixture. Your dough should be stringy when pulled apart.
Next pour melted butter into the bowl a little at a time and fold the dough (do not knead the dough). Pull and fold and pour in melted butter, repeating until you’ve used all the butter. Don’t worry if you see butter puddling around the edges, it will absorb as the dough rises.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap that you’ve tucked down inside the bowl touching the dough. Then wrap the entire bowl in towels and place in a warm place and let the dough rise for about 2 hours. Once dough has risen, separate it into 4 equal parts. Then separate each of the 4 parts into 3 pieces and roll the dough with your hands into approximately 14-inch long ropes that are about finger thickness. Repeat with the remaining 3 parts of dough. You’ll have 12 long ropes. Braid each of the sets of long ropes just like you would braid hair. You will have 4 braids.
Place each braid in a round pan that has been lined with wax paper and cover with towel. Place in a warm spot for 30-45 minutes for dough to rise again.
Once each of the braids has risen, prepare the egg wash. Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water and a few drops of vanilla, then brush each of the braids with the mixture. This will give the bread a beautiful shine.
Place pans into a preheated 350°F oven (2 at a time) and bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough; if you see it getting too brown, cover with foil until baked through.
Note: For a traditional Greek Easter bread, once the bread has cooled, cut out the center and place a dyed red hard-boiled egg into the center of each round of bread.
Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!