Elena Turroni

Braided Bread

1-1/2 cups warm water
3 tbsp active dry yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour (work in more flour if neccessary)

In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle in a couple of pinches of the sugar to activate yeast. When starts to activate, add remaining sugar, salt, eggs and oil. Add most of the flour and mix in with hands (adding more flour as necessary) to make sticky dough. Beat with hands, pushing against side of bowl, then punch several times with fist. Cover and refrigerate until doubled in bulk; punch down. Refrigerate until doubled in bulk again; punch down again.

Turn out onto lightly floured work surface. Divide in half. Divide each half into 4 equal portions and roll each into rope about 14 inches long. Pinch 4 of the ropes together at top. Starting with rope at right, braid 3 of the ropes once; place left-hand rope under adjacent rope. Continue this pattern until completely braided. Pinch together ends. Repeat with remaining 4 ropes to make another braided loaf. Place on baking sheets and form into crescent shape. Cover and let rise for 1-1/2 hours.

Bake in 350°F oven for about 35 minutes or until golden and light.

Metric Version

Crema Caramellata

This luscious dessert is similar to French Crème Caramel.
Yield: 6 servings

4 cups milk 1 L
6 eggs 6
1/2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL
1 tsp vanilla 5 mL
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup brandy (optional) 125 mL

Caramel Topping:
3/4 cup granulated sugar 175 mL

Caramel Topping:
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt sugar over low heat, stirring and brushing down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in hot water, until sugar melts and turns a deep caramel colour. Immediately pour into 6 cup (1.5 L) stainless steel bowl, swirling to coat bottom and sides. Caution: caramel will be very hot. Set aside.

In another saucepan, heat milk over low heat, stirring often, just until bubbles form around edge (do not boil).

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs. Beat in sugar and vanilla until foamy. Add lemon rind. Gradually pour in warm milk, beating constantly. Slowly pour milk mixture into caramel coated. Centre bowl in roasting pan; pour in enough hot water to come most of the way up the side of the bowl. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven and bake for about 1 hour or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Turn off heat and open oven door.

Let cool slightly in water bath. Remove from water bath, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Run a sharp knife around edge of bowl. Place serving bowl or rimmed platter upside down over stainless steel bowl; invert quickly. Gently lift away other bowl. Refrigerate until serving. Pour brandy over top (if using) just before serving.

Note: Elena makes her caramel directly in the bowl over a gas flame. Making it in a pot and pouring into the bowl is easier for those who don’t have quite as many years of experience!

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