No matter if plain, with raisins or chocolate, a braided sweet bread is very popular. Traditionally, a lot of you serve this sweet bread at Easter, but I think it tastes delicious at any time of the year.
For this braid you only need a couple of ingredients and a little patience. Since this sweet bread tastes best fresh, I like to do all the prep the day before, leaving me to simply bake it in the morning. The smell when this loaf is in the oven is just divine.
When the bread comes out of the oven, it should cool. However, I have to admit that I like it still slightly warm. I love the golden crust and the fluffy interior. Just a little butter on top and a cup of coffee, that’s all I need…so delightful!
Tools & Equipment
- Baking sheet
- Bench scraper
- Parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Plastic wrap or kitchen towel
- Stand mixer fitted with the dough hook
- Wire rack
Make Ahead: you can prepare this dough the day before up to step 5. The next morning you just have to brush the braid with egg wash and bake it in the oven.
Yeast: instead of dry yeast you can use half a cube (21g) of fresh yeast. Dissolve the yeast with about 10g of sugar in 50ml of lukewarm milk and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Then add the mixture to the rest of the ingredients.
Sugar: you can adjust the amount of sugar. If you do not want your yeast bread to be too sweet, you can reduce the sugar to 50g or increase it if you like it sweeter.
Ingredients for this Recipe
Step by Step Guide – How to Make Braided Sweet Bread
Place flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk briefly. Then add milk, egg yolks, butter, vanilla seeds and lemon zest. Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat completely with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, for 60-90 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into three equal parts and shape them into ropes about 35cm / 14-inches long.
Make a braid out of the ropes. When finished, the braid will be about 30cm / 12-inches long. Line a baking sheet with parchment, transfer the braid to the sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let the braid rise for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F. Whisk the egg yolk with the milk and brush on top of the braid. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Storage: you can keep the braided sweet bread covered at room temperature for up to 4 days. Tightly wrapped, you can freeze it for up to 2 months. To thaw the braid, let it sit at room temperature, still wrapped. This way, the condensation that forms during thawing will stay on the outside.
My Summary for Braided Sweet Bread
Taste: the braid tastes sweet and buttery, with a hint of vanilla.
Texture: it is light and fluffy with a nice crunch, thanks to the coarse sugar on top.
Time: prep time and baking time are 30 minutes each. In addition, you need to add the time for the dough to rise. This is about 2-12 hours ( at room temperature or in the fridge overnight).
More “BREAD” Recipes
- 400g all-purpose flour (550)
- 7g instant dry yeast
- 90g granulated sugar
- 1g salt
- 180ml whole milk, lukewarm
- 2 (35g) medium egg yolks, at room temperature
- 75g butter, at room temperature
- Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Place flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix briefly with a whisk.
- Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and add milk, egg yolks, butter, vanilla seeds and lemon zest. Mix on medium-low for about 10 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat completely with oil.
- Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 60-90 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead again briefly with your hands. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 3 equal parts and shape them into ropes about 35cm / 14-inches long.
- Make a braid out of the ropes, starting a little further in the middle, rather than right at the edge. This way you can shape the ends nicely afterwards. When finished, the braid will be about 30cm / 12-inches long.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the braid on the sheet and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the braid rise for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F.
- Whisk together the egg yolk and the milk and brush on top of the braid. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
- Bake on middle rack for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Time of proofing is not part of the prep time.