Recipe by Carolina
After nearly two years of baking, I’d never made any form of bread from scratch. Pizza crust, loaf-y cakes, and pie crust, yes. But never a true bread. This was the first ever bread I made, a recipe that I found and altered to make it my own.
Don’t let the braids fool you: this recipe is so, so easy to make, and it suited everyone’s taste (a remarkable feat in my family). Within a day, both of the large braids where gone!
Orange Sweet Bread Braids
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 cups flour
- 1 tbsp water
- 4 tsp orange zest*
- 2 tsp orange extract*
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (you really do need your stand mixer for this recipe), mix the yeast with the warm water and a pinch of sugar until it dissolves, then let it stand for 5-10 minutes.
- To the yeast mixture, add the sugar, butter, salt, orange zest, orange extract, half the flour, and one of the eggs and mix until combined.
- Bit by bit, add the remaining flour, until the dough balls up and is slightly sticky.
- Place the dough in a bowl greased (I use Pam spray), cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour (I placed on a table where the sunlight hit it through the window).
- Take out the dough and divide it into 6 equal pieces, and roll each into a rope about a foot and a half long.
- Braid three strands together and tuck the ends underneath, and place the braids on baking sheets that have been lined with parchment and sprayed. Cover them with tea towels and let rise for another 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk together the remaining egg with the tablespoon of water and brush this egg wash over each braid.
- Bake 15-20 minutes. Can be served warm, cold, alone or with butter and jam.
Storage: If you have leftovers after the braids have cooled completely, place them in Ziplock bags or cover with plastic wrap to ensure that the braids stay nice and soft.
*For a subtle orange flavor, use 2 tsp orange zest and 1.5 tsp orange extract. My dad said the loaves made this way tasted just like “Rosca de Reyes,” a Mexican sweet bread (for reference, if you’ve ever tried it).