One of the best things to have for breakfast is freshly baked sweet bread, with a bit of butter or clotted cream on top, and a cup of hot tea. When it comes to baked goods, homemade ones are really better than anything you can buy in a store. So why not make this lovely braided orange loaf? The texture almost resembles puff pastry, and the fresh orange zest gives lots of flavour, combined with the warm vanilla.
Keep in mind that you do not have to divide the dough into six pieces, you can divide it into as many as you like, and make the braid you are comfortable working with. One more thing to keep in mind is that the longer the braid, the harder to transfer to the baking sheet. You can braid it directly on the baking sheet, which helps a lot. Serve the bread warm, with plenty of hot tea.
400 grams plain flour
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ teaspoon dried yeast
200 grams yogurt
120 ml boiling water
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 teaspoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon oil, for brushing
Take the yogurt out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for about half an hour. While the yogurt is coming to room temperature, sift the flour in a large bowl, add the yeast, sugar and salt, and whisk it very well. Take the boiling water, and pour it into the yogurt, whisking constantly. Add in 2 tablespoons of oil, mix it really well, then pour it over the dry ingredients.
Mix with a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula until a very soft and slightly sticky dough forms. Add the orange flower water, orange zest and vanilla and mix it in well. At this point, add a bit more flour if you need to, but try to keep the dough as soft as possible. Keep kneading the dough right in the bowl, for a couple of minutes, until it becomes really sticky. Add the reserved tablespoon of oil and knead it in. The dough won’t stick anymore, so you can shape it into a ball.
Place the dough in a large clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. If the dough keeps sticking too much, add some additional flour. Divide the dough into as many pieces as your desired braid will have. I divided mine into 6 equal pieces. Shape each one into a long rope shape, then make the braid you want and place it on a large baking sheet, lined with baking paper.
Let it sit in a warm spot for another hour, to rise again. Just before baking, brush it with an additional tablespoon of oil and bake in a preheated oven, at 190˚C (375˚F), for 15-20 minutes.Note: As with any other baked bread, if you wish, you can brush the top with a bit of butter as soon as you take it out of the oven, for a softer crust.