Braided loaves ready for the last rise:
Just out of the oven:
Macedonian Pogacha Bread
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
2 tbsp. orange juice (freshly squeezed)
7 1/2 cups-8 1/2 cups (approx) all purpose flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1. In measuring cup, combine water and 1-1/2 tsp. sugar, sprinkle with yeast. Stir with fork and let stand 10 minutes to froth.
2. In top of a double boiler or heat proof bowl set over simmering water, place 1 cup sugar, milk, butter, vegetable oil, salt, orange rind and juice. Heat just until slightly warm to the touch. Remove from heat; whisk to combine and melt butter.
3. In large bowl, beat eggs until light coloured and fluffy. Whisk in yeast mixture, then milk mixture, then raisins & dried cranberries. Still whisking, add flour by the cupful until the batter becomes too stiff to whisk (after about 5 cups). With a wooden spoon stir in 1 more cup of the flour. Sprinkle work surface with about 1/2 cup of the remaining flour and turn dough out onto surface (dough will be VERY loose and sticky). Knead, adding remaining flour gradually to keep hands and surface from becoming sticky, until dough is elastic, about 5 minutes.
4. Place in large greased bowl; cover with plastic wrap and damp towel. Let rise in warm spot until double in bulk (1 1/2 hours). Punch down; cover and let rise again (1 hour). Punch dough down. Divide in half, then divide each half into three. Roll and pull each third into a log 14 inches long. Braid the 3 lengths of dough together and place in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan or on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (1 hour).
5. In a small bowl beat egg yolk and milk, brush loaves with mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a 325F oven for 1 hour or until golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped gently on the bottom. Let cool 10 minutes in pan. Recipe makes 2 large loaves.