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Lambropsomo - Greek Easter Bread

2 Tbs (2 packets, 30 ml) active dry yeast
1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water
1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) melted butter
2 tsp (10 ml) coarse salt or 1 tsp (5 ml) table salt
2 tsp (10 ml) anise seed, crushed
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1 Tbs (15 ml) grated orange rind
About 6 cups (1.5 L) white flour, preferably unbleached
2-5 hard boiled eggs, dyed red

For the glaze:
Soft butter
Sesame seeds (optional)

In a large bowl mix yeast with warm water, then stir in milk, butter
and salt. Add the anise seed, the beaten eggs, the sugar, and
grated orange peel. Keep stirring while adding the flour. When
the mixture is stiff, turn out on a floured surface and knead about
10 minutes, until smooth and satiny. Clean the bowl and grease it
well. Put the dough in the bowl, and turn so all surfaces are
oiled; cover with plastic and let rise about 2 hours, until doubled.
Punch the dough down, knead briefly and divide in half to make the
two different shapes (or make two loaves of the same shape if you
prefer). To make a round loaf with a cross with one half of the
dough, first tear off a piece of dough, about one-fifth the whole
amount. Form the larger piece into a round and put it on a greased
baking sheet. Center one red egg on the top of the round. Divide
the reserved piece in half and roll out 2 long strips. Place these
over the egg in the form of a cross, tucking the ends under the
loaf. To make a braided crown with the other half, divide the
dough in thirds and roll out into ropes at least 2 feet (60 cm)
long. Braid the ropes together, pinching the ends securely and
then form into a circle on a greased baking sheet, pinching again
the ends where they overlap. Nestle 4 red eggs in among the braids.
Cover both loaves with a kitchen towel and let rise 1 hour. Bake
in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 30 minutes. Remove and brush
immediately with butter, then sprinkle on optional sesame seeds.
Makes 2 round loaves.

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