Fonott Kalács / Hungarian Braided Sweet Bread
Credit: Marika’s Kitchen
- 1 3/4 cups scalded whole milk
- 7 grams Saf-instant yeast (no need to proof)
- OR 1 packet active dry yeast (need to proof)
- 4 tablespoons sugar (50g)
- 1 Tbsp salt (17.6g)
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (room temp)
- 830g all-purpose flour (5 to 6 cups)
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (60g) room temp
- 1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
- When using active dry yeast, yeast must be proofed before adding to flour.
- Warm milk in pan or microwave to 120F
- Add 7g (1 packet) active dry yeast and 50g (4 Tbsp.) sugar to warm milk (not higher than 120F and not lower than 110F)
- Mix well to incorporate sugar and yeast into milk and let sit in a warm draft free place for 5 to 10 minutes to proof. It will begin to form little bubbles and top surface of milk will foam.
- While active dry yeast is activating, crack 2 whole eggs and one egg yolk into a bowl, stir with a fork or a whisk till blended and set aside.
- While active dry yeast is proofing/activating, add approx. half of the flour, (2 to 3 cups) and 1 Tbsp. (17.6g) salt to mixing bowl and stir to incorporate salt into flour.
- When yeast has proofed, turn power on low to medium setting and add mixed eggs and proofed yeast/milk/sugar mixture to mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bowls clean of egg and milk and sugar into dry ingredients. The egg and sugar tend to stick to bowls. Stir for a minute or two to incorporate wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Scrape sides and bottom of mixing fowl if necessary to incorporate all dry ingredients into wet till smooth and runny.
- While mixer is still spinning on low to medium speed, gradually add remining flour to mixing bowl, alternating between flour and dabs of softened butter. When all flour and butter have been added, scrape sides of mixing bowl and bottom of bowl occasionally to incorporate all dough into one mass and run mixer for between 8 to 10 minutes. If dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour, but sparingly. This is intended to be a fairly soft dough. After this step, move to the “After Yeast Directions,” skip all of the Instant Yeast Directions below.
- When using instant yeast, there is no need to activate yeast beforehand. It can go straight into the flour, but milk temp still needs to be around 120F. Not above 120F and not below 110F.
- In pan or in microwave, heat milk and butter to 120F. set aside.
- Crack 2 whole eggs and one egg yolk into a bowl, stir with a fork or a whisk till blended and set aside.
- Add half of the flour, (approx. 2 -3 cups), 4 tbsp. (50g) sugar, 7g of instant yeast and salt to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and pulse dough hook a few times to combine dry ingredients.
- Turn mixer on low to medium and with dough hook spinning, add egg mixture followed by warm milk into the dry ingredients in bowl. Run mixer for about two minutes till all dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bowls clean of egg and milk/yeast/sugar. Egg and sugar tend to stick to bottom of bowls.
- With the mixer on low to medium, gradually add remaining flour. If areas within your mixing bowl are not being incorporated into your dough, Momentarily pause motor and use a rubber spatula to scrape sides and bottom of bowl occasionally to incorporate everything into one lump of dough to be worked by dough hook. Resume mixing.
- Continue mixing dough for about 10 minutes. It should not be sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl. The dough should be moist but not too sticky. A little sticky is okay. If too sticky, add a little more flour but sparingly. Dough should be soft.
- With floured hands, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. Form the dough into a ball, rub a little oil over the surface and place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Dough will be double in size. (see video for visual)
- Flour hands again and remove dough onto lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a little again to remove air and roll into a cylinder. (See video for visual)
- Cut dough into four equal portions. You’ll have four balls of dough.
- On lightly floured surface, quickly knead each little portion into four smooth balls and place them back into your bowl. Cover with saran wrap or a dish towel and let rise another 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove 2 of the balls of dough onto a very lightly floured work surface and roll each piece into long cylindrical strands/ropes. (too much flour will make rolling it into the ropes next to impossible). Strands and work surface needs to be a little tacky to be able to roll and not slip and slide.
- Cross strands at the top in the middle, allowing the four ends to hang evenly. It will look like a little octopus with four tentacles 😉
- Your crossed over top of loaf will be toward your left hand and the bottom of your loaf where your four ends hang should be by your right hand. (this might be opposite if you are left handed. )
- work from the strand closest to you (closest to the edge of the counter and begin alternating / interlacing the first strand under the second, over the third strand and under the fourth strand. (More like a weaving than a braiding.)
- Always from the side closest to you, weave the strand closest to you alternatingly between the strands moving away from you.
- Then again, starting with the strand closest to you under the second strand, over the third strand and under the fourth strand.
- Then start back with the strand closest to you, alternatingly continue to weave under, over, under.
- When you reach the end, press braided ends tightly and securely and tuck them under the dough. Over securing the ends is better than under securing it so it doesn’t release while baking. Think wetting fingertips to secure rather than flouring dough and fingertips.
- Carefully place braided dough on baking sheet lined with oven-safe parchment paper, brush egg wash over braided bread and let rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes. If room tempt is cooler, rising may be slower.
- After about 10 or 15 minutes into the last rise, brush braided bread again with egg wash, allowing the dough to absorb the egg wash in between coatings.
- go back to step 11 and repeat process with remaining 2 balls of dough for second loaf.
- After loaves have raised for approx. 20 to 30 minutes, bake the bread in a preheated 350-degree-F. oven until golden brown; about 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing. – Yield: 1 extremely large loaf or 2 medium loaves. The one large loaf ended up being 24 inches long. Had to connect two cookie sheets and barely fit into my large oven.
- Remember, Active dry yeast and instant yeast are different. Active dry yeast must be proofed beforehand but instant does not. It can go straight into the flour.
- Milk temperature of around 120F is very important. If milk is too hot, it can kill the yeast. If it is too cold, the activation/proofing process takes much longer.
- There are two kinds of sticky. One sticky sticks to your hands and you can’t hardly het it off without washing your hands. This kind of sticky needs a little more flour and more kneading . Another kind of sticky is sticky but a tiny bit of flour on hands is enough to make dough not stick to your hand. You want the doesn’t stick to your hand with a tiny bit of flour kind of sticky.
- When rolling dough into strands/ropes, if there is too much flour on counter or hands, wipe away flour from work surface and wash hands leaving them a tiny bit damp to try to create a little tackiness to the surfaces. (very little;-)
- Marton Mama always made the dough for this recipe and Marton Papa always did the kneading and braiding. Hopefully I will be able to edit the videos where they are making it together on May 13, 2020. Both 86 years old… and still playing their part in making it happen. Neither of them could do it alone, but together, they nail it. ☺