Around Easter time, braided yeast-loafs are very popular among Austrians. Well, not only around this time of the year, but especially. It’s an Easter tradition. People either bake the Oster-Striezel (= Easter-Braid) at home or buy it in one of the many bakeries. Usually, the loaves contain raisins (I prefer golden, by the way) and are deliciously soft and fluffy.
The recipe makes either 3 small loaves or one regular 9×5-inch loaf (see pic).
I made a couple of these brioche-braids recently and found them good for any occasion throughout the day. They sure make a lovely breakfast or brunch, either plain or with a slab of butter and some delicious jam. You can easily pre-slice the loaf and freeze it for longer term storing to use them later for a lovely breakfast – any day of the week. If I forgot to take some slices out of the freezer the day before, I usually simply toast them in the morning. This brioche also makes a perfect lunch since it is not overly sweet – especially topped with a slice of ham and some aged cheese.
Big loaf bread.
We did a trip to NYC last weekend and simply took half of the big loaf in slices as snacks. You will get some jealous looks from your bus-neighbors, I promise ;-). And even if you didn’t store the yeasted bread properly and it gets dry, nothing is lost. Simply dip them in a mix of egg, milk, sugar and cinnamon and make brioche-french toast. People in Li’l Vienna love those!
Recipe Brioche Braid
I’ve already posted a similar recipe for a Sweet Braided Yeast Bread (Rosinenzopf) a year ago. I altered it slightly and instead of baking it onto a baking sheet, I am using loaf pans for this recipe. In this way, the crumb is even moister and the braid holds the shape better. However, I still am a huge fan of this Sweet Yeast Bread– I think it looks absolutely stunning and is a perfect hostess gift if you are invited for brunch.
Fluffy and moist crumb.
Now, to the actual recipe:
Mix all ingredients (by hand) and let the dough rise for about 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk. Divide the dough in pieces and form strands.
Depending on your preference, braid it with 2, 3, or 4 strands. Here you can find a video tutorial for a 3-strand braid and a 4-strand braid.
Place the braided dough in parchment paper lined loaf pan and let double in bulk – about 1 hour. I always use parchment paper, since the loaves are really easy to remove from the pan after baking.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices after the second rise.
Bake until the brioche loaves are nicely brown.
Bake in the center rack of the 350 °F preheated oven until golden-brown, about 25 minutes for the small pans or 30 minutes for a big loaf pan.
3 small yeast braids, 2-strand braid in the front.
The recipe makes either 3 small loaf pans 5.5×3-inch (14×8 cm) or one regular 9×5-inch (23x13cm) loaf pan.
Brioche-Striezel – Soft Mini-Brioche Braids
Yield: 3 small loaf pans 5.5x3x2-inch (=14x8x5 cm) with a capacity of 1 3/4 cups (= 420 ml) or one regular 9x5x3-inch (23x13x7 cm) loaf pan
These Austrian-Style brioche-braids have the softest and moistest crumb ever. The recipe makes either 1 big loaf or 3 smaller ones.
450 g/16 oz (about 3 ½ cups) white bread flour
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
2 ¼ teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
5 ½ tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter, softened
3 ½ tablespoons (50 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 ¾ tablespoons (40 g) sour cream
1 ¼ teaspoons fine salt
½ cup (150 g) golden raisins, washed and patted dry (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes if on the dry side, then squeezed)
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons milk
First, make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, whisk together 4 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of the bread flour until no lumps remain. Gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons of water while whisking.
Heat the mixture over low heat, whisking constantly. The mixture should be hot, but not boiling. After just a few minutes, it should thicken to a gel-like consistency. As soon as it comes to a pudding-like consistency, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set it aside for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate and dissolve.
Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar together with a mixer in a separate big bowl, until light in color, about 3 minutes.
Add vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk, and mix after each addition.
Add yeast-milk, sour cream, salt and cooled tangzhong and mix until combined. Add a good cup of flour, mix until well combined.
Time to change your tools: Get rid of the mixer and use a sturdy (wooden) cooking spoon. Add the raisins to the mixing bowl and stir until they are spread evenly. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour with the spoon (or use a mixer with a dough hook attached).
When all ingredients come together, knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes. You can keep the dough in the mixing bowl for this step. The dough will be sticky, but refrain from adding more flour. It helps, if you oil your clean hands before you knead a sticky dough. If the dough is still too tacky to knead, cover the bowl and set it aside for 5-10 minutes. After resting, the dough is way better to knead by hand.
Let the dough rise, covered at warm room temperature until doubled in volume (about 1 to 1.5 hours) or put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 equal parts. If you are using one big loaf pan, you can start braiding. For 3 small breads, divide each of the 3 parts in 2, 3, or 4 parts again, depending on the type of braid you prefer.
To make strands, form each piece of dough to a ball, and roll each ball into a strand of 10-inch (25 cm) length (or 13-inch/33 cm for a big 9x5-inch pan). Place the strands in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together and braid them (see video tutorial for a 4-strand bread).
Tuck the ends of the loaf underneath and place the braided loafs in pans, lined with parchment paper.
Let the loaves rise until puffy, about 1 hour at warm room temperature.
Mix the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons milk. Brush the loaves with egg wash, if possible two times. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake in the center rack of the 350 °F preheated oven until golden-brown, about 25 minutes for the small pans or 30 minutes for a big loaf pan. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Tangzhong is an Asian technique in which a portion of the flour in the recipe is heated with water to make a roux (gel-like paste), before being cooled and added to the rest of the ingredients. Through the heating process, the flour absorbs the water in a better way, resulting in a softer, moister and fluffier dough.
Long, cold rise: Instead of letting the dough rise at warm room temperature for about an hour, you can put it in the fridge overnight (tightly covered). Before you braid the dough, let it get back to room temperature (about ¾-1 hour).