Last year I made an Easter Wreath for my German Language class. This year I thought I revisit that recipe and see how I can improve on it. Since then and now I have actually found fresh yeast and thought I would give it a try.
I also was teaching an Easter Baking class and so I thought this would be something people would enjoy. Working with yeast dough is not something a lot of people like to do. Many are “scared” because things can go wrong and all your work would be for nothing. However, I believe if you stick to a couple of ground rules not too much can go wrong.
The recipes comes from a book called “German Cultrual Traditions – Deutsche Traditionen: Easter – Ostern” and was published here in Saskatchewan for Canadians with a German background or Canadians who are generally interested in other cultures.
– 600g flour
– 30g fresh yeast (or about 10g of dry yeast)
– 250ml luke warm milk
– 100g sesame seeds
– 75g soft butter
– 75 sugar
– 1 egg
– pinch of salt
– 1/2 tsp. cardamom (use all spice if you don’t have that)
– 2 tsp. ginger
– 1 yolk
– 1 tbsp. milk
You should start the dough in a bowl. I prefer a large metal bowl, which is also perfect for the dough to rise in.
Sift the flour and make a dent in which you pour half of the luke warm milk. Then crumble the yeast into that milk as well as a bit of sugar. Twirl the milk with the yeast and sugar and a bit of flour to make a sponge. Do not combine all! Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot for 15 min.
Tip 1: Make sure the milk is not too hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast. Too cold milk will slow the rising process down.
Tip 2: A warm spot can be on top of your oven when it is turned on. If the top of your oven is not warm you might want to try on top of your heating vent. Otherwise a warm room or even sunshine should do the trick. You may also use a lamp with the spotlight on the bowl.
The sponge should be visibly enlarged after the rising time. Pour the rest of the milk along the edge, sprinkle 75g of sesame seeds, all of the cardamom and ginger as well as the salt and sugar into the bowl. Then add the egg on the side and the soft butter. Knead the dough quickly into a soft dough.
Tip 3: Due to the sesame seeds the dough might feel a bit tough.
Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and use a bit of oil to cover the inside of the bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap again. Place in a warm spot for another 15 to 25 min or until the dough has doubled.
After the second rising, turn the dough onto a clean, lightly dusted work surface and cut it into three equal parts. Each should be rolled out, without extra kneading, into a long strand. The longer the strand the bigger the wreath in circumference. Lay the out parallel to each other, tuck all three ends together and braid. Close the other end by tucking all ends together again, then form a wreath and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover the wreath with plastic wrap once more and let it rise another 15 min. Combine egg yolk with 2 tbsp. of milk to make egg wash and brush the wreath. Then sprinkle the remaining 25g of sesame seed on top of it and bake at 200°C of about 25 to 35 min. Time varies due to your oven.
The wreath is done when it’s light brown/golden-brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. It is most delicious when still warm, with a bit of butter or Nutella. Easter wreaths are typically served with an egg or two which are placed in the middle.
Tip 4: I have noticed that this works much better with fresh yeast than with dry quick rise yeast. If you have fresh yeast available, I recommend to use that.