My grandmother taught me how to cook and the best memories I have of her are in the Kitchen.
When she got sick with Breast Cancer and could not knead the dough anymore I used to help her to prepare this sweet braided bread – she used to give them and some other treats as Christmas presents to her friends.
The year she lost her battle to Cancer, I baked more than 20 loafs in her honor and I gave it to my friends and some of hers.
I still bake it, every Christmas time and I am sure wherever she is, she is very proud. I hope you enjoy this recipe that is very close to my heart.
Nana Wanda’s Sweet Braided Bread
50g fresh bread yeast or the equivalent of dried yeast (check in the package)
1 sweetened condensed milk can (395g)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter
About 900g Bread White Flour
¼ Tsp of salt
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 Tsp cinnamon
¼ Tsp grounded nutmeg
Dried Fruits or Chocolate Drops and Nuts (around 200g per braid)
In a large bowl (were you can knead the bread). Combine yeast, sugar and lukewarm milk (around 40C). Add enough Flour to make it a thick sponge and leave it to proof for about 15 min – after this time it should be almost double its size and have bubbles if not the yeast is not good and you should start again.
In the mixer bowl add the eggs, condensed milk, butter, vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
Mix the egg cream with the prepared yeast, add some flour, stirring with a spoon – keep adding flour until it gets to tick to the spoon then is time to use the hands. Keep adding slowly the flour and kneading well after each addition. If you want to add the spices you should do it at this point. You may not need to add all Flour – the dough should be elastic and firm enough to roll but still a little bit sticky.
Leave it resting, covered with a tea towel and in a warm place for about one hour.
Give a quick Knead to the dough and add the filling (chocolate, nuts or dried fruits) at this point if you wish.
Share the dough in three balls and each one again in three, roll and braid the pieces together.
Put the three braids in trays covered with baking paper. Leave it for 15 min.
In the meantime heat the oven to 200C.
Egg wash the bread for some color and bake it for 30 min until golden and cooked.