This recipe for Easter bread was given to me by my aunt over thirty years ago. It had been passed down to her, so it is truly authentic. The copy of the recipe that she gave me is yellow with age and stained with butter and vanilla. Signs of the use that I’ve given it over the years. It’s a large recipe that will make four 5-by-9-inch loaves.
Polish Sweet Bread
1/2 dozen eggs
8 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 pkg. yeast
1 tbs vanilla
1 cup raisins
1. Melt butter in warm milk; set aside to cool.
2. Measure flour, sugar, salt; set aside.
3. Mix yeast with a little warm water; set aside to proof.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.
5. Beat egg yolks until lemon colored.
(Steps 4 and 5 are important. Make sure to follow directions.)
6. Using a large pot if you don’t have a big enough bowl, combine egg whites, yolks, warm milk, butter, vanilla, and yeast. Work in the flour slowly with your hands until it’s ready to be kneaded. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it until it’s smooth and springs back when you stick a finger in it. Add flour as needed while you’re kneading. It could take up to a cup more than the recipe calls for. Also add the raisins during the kneading process to incorporate them into the dough.
7. Put the dough into a large greased bowl or large pot; cover and let rise in a warm, draft free spot until doubled in size. This should take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
8. Punch down the risen dough; knead again briefly. Form into four loaves and place into greased 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double in size.
9. Brush risen dough with butter melted with sugar. Optional topping: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 stick butter, 1 tsp cinnamon. Flour hands; rub mixture in hands until it form little balls. Sprinkle on top of bread before you put it in the oven.
10. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for approximately 35 minutes. Finished bread will be browned and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack before slicing.
Make this bread once, and it will become a tradition!