Braided Mazanec

Braided Mazanec

With amaretto-soaked golden raisins, freshly squeezed orange juice, and Marzipan, this braided eggy yeast bread is prevalent throughout Eastern Europe.

Braided Mazanec
 
Makes 2 (12-inch) braids
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (120 grams) amaretto
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) water
  • 2 cups (256 grams) golden raisins
  • 1¼ cups (300 grams) warm whole milk (105°F/40°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 4½ teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) fresh orange juice, strained
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams), divided
  • 2 large egg yolks (37 grams)
  • 2½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons (1.5 grams) orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon (2 grams) almond extract
  • 9¾ cups (1,220 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup (87 grams) Marzipan (recipe below), frozen and grated
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons (21 grams) sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring amaretto and ¼ cup (60 grams) water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in raisins; remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding excess liquid.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine warm milk and yeast. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and orange juice.
  3. With mixer on medium speed, add sugar, 2 eggs (100 grams), egg yolks, salt, zest, and almond extract, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 4½ cups (563 grams) flour, beating until combined. Add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined. Stir in rehydrated raisins and Marzipan. Transfer dough to a large bowl, and stir in 4½ cups (563 grams) flour with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. (Because this is such a large amount of dough, you will need to incorporate remaining flour into dough in a larger bowl.)
  4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, adding remaining ¾ cup (94 grams) flour, if needed. (Dough should not be sticky.)
  5. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Loosely cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
  7. Lightly punch down dough. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough. Divide dough in half. Divide one half of dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches long. Place strands vertically in front of you. Pinch 4 ends together at top. Cross the fourth strand over the second strand, the first strand over the third strand, and the second strand over the third strand. Repeat pattern until you’ve reached end of strands; pinch ends together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough. Place braided loaves on prepared pans. Cover and let stand in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed, about 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Brush dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with almonds.
  10. Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 45 to 50 minutes, loosely covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary.

Marzipan
 
Makes about 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups (144 grams) almond flour
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg white (30 grams)
  • 3 teaspoons (12 grams) almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) rum extract
Instructions
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place almond flour and confectioners’ sugar; pulse until combined. Add egg white and extracts; process until mixture holds together. If mixture is too dry, add water, 1 teaspoon (5 grams) at a time. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

 

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