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The Circle of Serbian Sisters in Milwaukee reached back to a homeland in the Balkans for this egg- and butter-rich bread that is braided and then coiled on the baking sheet to rise impressively into a loaf of twined golden brown ropes.
The loaf is baked and served most often on one's patron saint day, but it is equally good anytime. "God, I could live on this bread," wrote James Orgill, who is always searching out little-known but delicious recipes and passing them along to this author. Like Mr. Orgill, I could live on this bread. Almost. Kolach is an unusually fine loaf to be made with so few ingredients. True, some are especially rich.
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons minced lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2½ cups hot milk (120°F-130°F)
- 6½ cups bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 egg yolk, beaten, mixed with:
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ¼ cup whole nuts (your choice)
- 1 large baking sheet, teflon or sprinkled with cornmeal.
- In a mixing or mixer bowl cream by hand or with a mixer flat beater the butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and juice.
- Mix the milk with the butter and egg yolk mixture.
- Measure in 2 cups flour.
- Add the yeast.
- Stir to blend well.
- When the batter is smooth, add flour, ½ cup at a time, and each time stir vigorously.
- When the dough has formed a mass that can be lifted out of the bowl and placed on the floured work surface, the dough is ready to knead.
- Or, if using a mixer, attach the dough hook.
- Add sprinkles of flour if the dough continues to be sticky during the kneading period. (10 minutes)
- Knead the dough with an aggressive push-turn-fold motion or under the dough hook for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- At this point it should not stick to the work surface or to the sides of the mixer bowl.
- With a food processor, attach the short plastic dough blade.
- The sequence for adding ingredients varies from above.
- Place the butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice in the work bowl and pulse several times to cream.
- Measure 3 cups flour into the bowl.
- Add the yeast.
- With the machine running, pour the milk through the feed tube.
- When the dough is a smooth batter, stop the machine and add flour, ¼ cup at a time, either through the feed tube or by removing the cover.
- If flour around the edges of the bowl is not pulled in by the blade, remove the cover and scrape the flour into the center and under the blade. (6 minutes)
- When the dough becomes a mass and rides around the work bowl on the blade, knead for 60 seconds.
- As it spins the dough will clean (somewhat) the sides of the bowl.
- When the dough is first turned from the bowl it may seem quite moist-sprinkle with flour and knead for a few moments.
First rising Edit
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with a length of plastic wrap, and put aside at room temperature to double in bulk, about 1 hour. 
- When the dough has risen, turn onto a floured work surface and divide in half.
- Divide each half into 3 equal parts.
- With the palms of your hands, roll each part into a rope about 24" long.
- Place the braid on the baking sheet and coil it.
- Tuck the end of the braid into the coil so that it doesn't break loose as the dough rises.
- With your hands, gently push the coils into a symmetrical shape. (15 minutes)
Second rising Edit
- Cover the 2 coils with parchment paper or a cloth and put aside at room temperature until the dough doubles in bulk, about 50 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F about 20 minutes before baking. 
- Brush the loaves with the egg-milk glaze, and carefully push the nuts into a pattern over the top of the loaves.
- Place the baking sheet in the moderate oven and bake until golden, about 1 hour.
- Turn one of the loaves over.
- If it is brown, and sounds hard and hollow when tapped with a forefinger, the loaves are done.
Final step Edit
- The first thing to do is admire the twined braids.
- Beautiful! call in the family to look at them.
- Allow the loaves to cool for 10 minutes before lifting them with a metal spatula and placing them on a metal rack to cool.
- Delicious toasted.
- ↑ If using a new fast-rising yeast at the recommended higher temperatures, reduce the rising times by about half.
- ↑ if using a convection oven, reduce heat 50°F. Some convection ovens will not accommodate a baking sheet suitably large to take both loaves at once. It may be necessary to bake separately-placing the reserved loaf in the refrigerator or cool place while the first loaf bakes.