Traditionally, Greek sweet bread is served on holidays and for special occasions, but this recipe is so simple that you can make it whenever you get the craving!
A braided design is signature to this kind of egg-enriched bread, which is also prevalent in other countries and cultures…from Armenia to Russia and even Croatia. With its dense texture and slightly sweet flavor, it’s easy to understand why so many countries have made this bread a holiday staple.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of making homemade bread with yeast. It’s really quite easy. All you have to do is mix the ingredients and knead them together either by hand or with a stand mixer.
Greek Sweet Bread Recipe
- 2 3/4 - 3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 pkg active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup milk
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 egg, for brushing
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together 1½ cups flour and the packet of yeast. Melt the butter in the microwave. Add milk to the butter then heat in the microwave until just barely warm.
- Crack both eggs into the milk and butter mixture then whisk until combined. Add the egg mixture into the flour and yeast, mixing until all of the flour is incorporated. Begin adding the remaining flour in increments until soft dough forms.
- If you are mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3−5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic—this will take about 2 minutes in the stand mixer. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (this will take approximately 1½ hours).
- After the dough has had a chance to double in volume, punch it down to deflate. Remove ⅓ of the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into eight 12" ropes. Form 4 twisted ropes by taking 2 ropes and twisting them together. Use several of the braided ropes to line the inside edge of a greased 9" round cake pan.
- Shape the remaining ⅔ of dough into a round ball just large enough to fit inside the twisted ropes. Use the remaining twists to make any design you would like on top of the loaf. (We placed the remaining twists in a spiral in the center of the loaf to form a rosette.) Cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm spot one final time for about 30−45 minutes.
- As you leave the dough to rise for the final time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the loaf has doubled in size, brush the top with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake the bread for 30−35 minutes, but cover it with aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before removing the bread from the pan. Enjoy!
Altogether, this recipe takes only 15 minutes or so. Most of your time is spent on waiting for the dough to rise.