Saffron Easter Braid (bread machine method)

_20160327_093022 _20160326_181132-1 _20160327_090808-1Put the ingredients into the machine in this order:
2 room temperature eggs
1/2 cup very soft butter
1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar plus 2 tbsp honey
1 small envelope of saffron (this is optional if you’re not used to the taste but really gives a unique flavor and beautiful golden color) Dissolve it in 2 tbsp of very hot water.

360-400 gr all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
2 tsp of granulated yeast

for the egg wash (before the final rising) 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
1/2 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins soaked in wine to soften (or water)
1/4 cup whole almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. When all the ingredients have been added (except egg wash and cranberries) set the machine to program 4 (brioche setting or other sweet bread setting) and start. If necessary add a bit of flour if dough is too sticky (it should be soft though).

3. Stop the machine just before the final rising (3rd) and remove the dough to a floured board or surface. Punch down and knead briefly. Pull dough into a long rope,
flatten slightly and sprinkle over the drained and floured cranberries or raisins.
Fold over the dough and roll it into a long cylinder. Now you can shape the dough as you like: large pretzel (like mine), a spiral or cut into 3 sections and braid.

4. Place the shaped dough onto a wax paper lined (and buttered) baking sheet.

5. Brush the shaped dough with the egg wash and press a few almonds over the top.
Lightly cover with another sheet of wax paper and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 30 -45 minutes or until almost doubled.

6. Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for about 30 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. (bread should have a slightly hollow sound when tapped) and you’ll know it’s ready by the intensely delicious aroma!

7. Remove to a cooling rack.

Tip: Delicious with slightly sweetened whipped cream, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.