Armenian Sweet Bread (Nan-e gisu)

Armenian Sweet Bread 1

Makes 3 loaves

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus rising time overnight

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package or 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1/4th cup warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tsp ground mahlab
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup melted, unsalted butter or Oil
  • 4.5-5.5 cups cake flour, sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

GLAZE

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon hot water

DECORATION

  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds or sugar

This bread is associated with Easter and was made by our neighborhood Armenian bakery during my childhood. It was a special breakfast treat for us, eating the bread with homemade fig jam.

METHOD

  • In a wide mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, sugar, honey, mahlab, milk and butter, stirring constantly for 2 minutes with a wooden spoon.
  • Gradually add 4.5 cups of flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly for 10 to 15 minutes until you have a sticky dough.
  • Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Turn the dough in a well-oiled bowl to ensure it is coated evenly in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise overnight.
  • On a floured surface, divide the dough into 3 balls. Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, divide it into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a rope about 12 inches long. Secure the ropes at one end, then braid the 3 equal ropes together. Place this braid on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Follow the same procedure to braid the remaining 2 dough balls. Cover and let the braids rise again for another hour.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180° C). Make the glaze in a small bowl by mixing together the egg yolks and water. Brush the tops with the glaze and sprinkle the top with poppy seeds or sugar.
  • Place the baking sheets, 1 at a time, in the oven, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until bread is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Serve either warm or at room temperature. Nush-e-Jan!Armenian Sweet Bread 3

Source: Food of Life Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

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