Braided Easter Bread Recipe
Braided Easter Bread is soft and has a surprise inside! This Easter bread is laced with farmers cheese, apricots, and orange zest which give the loaf amazing flavor and aroma.
For the Paska Easter Bread Dough:
For the Farmer Cheese (Tvorog) Filling:
- 8 1/2 oz farmers cheese (1 3/4 cups packed)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dried apricots chopped
- 2 tsp orange zest from 1 medium orange
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
In a measuring cup, Combine 1/2 cup warm milk (not hot),1 tsp sugar and 1 1/2 tsp yeast. Stir to combine and let sit 10 min to proof.
In a small bowl, add 1 egg, remaining 3 Tbsp sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and whisk together. Whisk in warm melted butter (NOT HOT). Lastly whisk in proofed yeast mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour then add wet ingredients. Combine dough with a spatula then knead by hand 10 min. Dough will be soft and not sticking to your hands. Form dough into a ball then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make cheese filling: In a medium bowl crumble farmers cheese with a fork. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg yolk. Use spatula to blend until combined and somewhat creamy. Add diced apricots and 2 tsp orange zest.
Once dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 12"x9" rectangle, between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. Add cheese filling and spread evenly leaving a 1/2" border at the edges.
Roll dough into a log starting from the long end and pinch edges to seal. Cut the roll in half to split into 2 strands, keeping them attached at one end. Overlap the 2 strands starting at the connected end and weaving them together towards the ends. Pinch the ends to seal. Carefully transfer braid cut-side up to a greased loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise/puff up at room temperature 30-45 min. Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp water and generously brush egg wash over risen loaf.
Bake in center of oven at 350˚F for 35 to 40 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest 5 minutes in pan then transfer to wire rack. Dust warm bread with powdered sugar. Once cooled to room temperature, slice and serve.