My all time favorite recipe. It is delicious freshly baked but will keep very well for days wrapped in plastic or foil. Because it takes long time to make it, I always double the recipe.
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
¼ cup warm milk
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon mastic
About ½ cup milk
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons mahleb, pulverized
2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon cream
Chopped almonds and/or hazelnuts
- To make the sponge, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk and let stand in a warm place 10 minutes until frothy.
- Stir in the flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 30 minutes.
- Tie the mastic in a folded piece of cheesecloth and pound gently to crush it. (I used coffee filter instead of cheesecloth).
- Place bag in a small saucepan with milk and simmer 20 minutes. If the milk evaporates too quickly, add a little more.
- Remove from the heat, take out the bag containing the mastic, hold it above the saucepan and squeeze dry to extract all the liquid; discard the bag.
- Measure the infused milk and add more if necessary to make ¼ cup. If it exceeds that, boil it briefly to reduce to desired amount and cool to lukewarm.
- Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center, put in the mahleb, mastic-infused milk, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, butter, and the sponge. Mix the ingredients in the center with fingertips and gradually work in the flour to make a soft dough.
- The dough is very soft and sticky, and it is best to knead it in a mixer. Using the dough hook, knead about 5 minutes. It will be a sticky and gummy mixture. Turn it onto a floured work surface and knead at least 5 more minutes by hand, until the dough is very smooth and springy.
- Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place about 3 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface, roll into a log, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into tight balls, cover them with a barely damp towel, and let rise 20 minutes.
- Roll each ball into a 20-inch rope, slightly plump in the middle and tapered at the ends. Let them rest, covered, 20 minutes, and then shape 3 ropes into a braid. Pinch the ends and tuck under. Do the same with the other 3 ropes.
- Place the braids in a greased baking pan, and let rise until almost double in bulk. This will take 1 to 3 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.
- Preheat the oven 350°F.
- Mix the egg yolk with the cream and brush over the bread. Wait 5 minutes and brush with the glaze once more.
- Sprinkle the top with nuts.
- Bake the bread 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the thickest part comes out clean. It should be gloriously golden brown and very fragrant. Cool on a rack.
Source: Classical Turkish Cooking – Ayla E. Algar