Ukrainian easter bread


1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon dried yeast (1 package)
3 cups scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
5 cups flour
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
9 to 10 cups sifted flour
1 egg (to glaze)

Dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit for 10 minutes. Combined the softened yeast with the lukewarm milk and 5 cups of flour. Beat well until smooth. Cover and let the batter rise in a warm place until light and bubbly. Add the beaten eggs, sugar, melted butter, and salt; mix thoroughly. Stir in enough flour to make dough that is neither very soft nor very stiff. Knead until the dough no longer sticks to the hand. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny. Place in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down and let it rise again. Divide the dough into 3 parts. Wrap one in plastic and set aside. Shape the remaining two parts into round balls and place in greased, round pans, such as a 9-inch spring-form pan. Cover with towels and let rise in a until dough reaches the tops of the pans. Divide the reserved dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each into a 20-inch rope. Cross the center of each pan of dough with the ropes. With a scissors, make a 6-inch slit lengthwise down the end of each rope and twist the ends into swirls, forming a stylized cross. Once the cross is in place, use additional dough to fill in spaces with rosettes, birds, or other designs. Brush loaf tops with a beaten egg diluted with 2 tablespoons of water. Bake in a moderately hot oven (400F) for about 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350F and continue baking for another 25 minutes or longer, or until done. It may be necessary to cover the tops with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove the loaves from the pans and allow them to cool. Yields 2 large loaves.

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