Russian Braid Coffee Cake
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This recipe was from my great-grandmother. One braid was for Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass and the other was for Christmas dinner.
1 cake yeast
1-1/4 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1-1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (6 seeds, crushed)
1/4 cup shortening, melted and cooled
2-3/4 cups sifted flour
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups or more sifted flour
Crumble yeast in mixing bowl. Add milk, sugar and salt to yeast and stir until dissolved. Blend in eggs. Add raisins and nuts. Sift together 2-3/4 cups flour, cinnamon and cardamom. Stir dry ingredients into yeast mixture. Beat in melted shortening. Mix additional flour in with hands; enough so dough doesn't stick to hands or bowl. Place on lightly floured board and cover for 10 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and cover with damp cloth. Keep at 80 degrees until double (about 4 hours). Punch down and divide into 2 equal parts. Round up each half and cover for 15 minutes. Divide each half into thirds. Roll each piece into a 1x15-inch rope. Place 3 ropes 1-inch apart on greased cookie sheet and braid. Cover with damp cloth. Let rise until light, about 1-1/2 hours. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Makes two braids. When cool you may frost with powdered sugar and milk glaze if desired.