2-7 gram Packets Active Dry Yeast
2 cups Warm Milk
9 to 10 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Makhlepi (optional)
8 Tbs. melted and cooled Butter
6 (1 lightly beated) Eggs
1 Tbs. Grated Orange Rind
1 Tbs. Grated Lemon rind
2 Hard-cooked red-dyed Eggs (optional)
2 Tbs. Black Cumin Seeds
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warmed milk.
Stir in 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup sugar, cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1-hour. Steep makhlepi (if utilizing)in 1/2 cup simmering water for about 5-minutes. Strain mixture and discard seeds. Set remaining liquid aside to cool.
Stir 1/2 cup water or makhlepi-scented liquid into the yeast mixture. Add butter and 5 eggs and thoroughly combine. Sift in 8 cups of flour, salt and remaining sugar into bread mixture. Add salt, orange and lemon zest, and mix thoroughly with a large wooden spoon. Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth, approximately 10-minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and set aside to raise for about 2-hours.
Return dough to the floured surface. Divide the dough into 6-equal parts and roll into ropes about 15-inches long. For each loaf, loosely braid 3 ropes, turn under ends and press 1 dyed egg (optional) near one end of each braid. Set bread aside to rise again for at least 1-hour on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Pre-heat oven to 350-F degrees. Brush bread with remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with black cumin seeds. Bake until golden, approximately 40 to 50-minutes. Store cooled bread in an airtight container or serve warm.