This plait is bread the one thing that comes to my mind when I think about Easter's in Turkey. This is called "Paskalya çöreği" in Turkish which means "Easter bread". It is actually available all year around and can be found in most of the bakeries. It has been one of my favorite foods to eat when I am in Turkey.
It is a sweet bread flavoured with a spice called mahlebi, which is made from the seeds of a species of cherry. This spice is available in most of the Turkish and Middle Eastern shops in London.
400 grams white bread flour
1 tablespoon dried active yeast
150 ml water (1 part boiling 2 parts cold)
1 teaspoon caster sugar
200 ml milk
1 egg for the dough
1 tablespoon mahlebi
3 tablespoons caster sugar
200 ml sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk for glazing
Flaked almonds to sprinkle
Start with preparing the yeast, mix 1 teaspoon of caster sugar in 150ml water (1part boiling, 2 parts cold) and leaving to come to life for 15 minutes.
Sift the flour in a bowl and add the butter & salt, then rub together with your fingertips until completely mixed and crumbly.
Make a hole in the middle and add milk, sunflower oil, egg, activated yeast mix, mahlebi, sunflower oil, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar.
Bring everything together until they form a sticky dough and leave to rest covered for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil your worktop. Gently knead the dough for 10 seconds or so, then return to the bowl and leave covered for about an hour, or until risen by half.
Line the baking tray with baking paper and take the dough out of the bowl and divide into 3 to make a big plait. Make each part into a strip almost as long as your baking tray.
Seal top of the three strips and start braiding. Braid and seal the other ends of the strips and shape the braid a little bit with your hands and place it on the baking tray.
Leave to raise an other 30 minutes. In the meantime warm the oven to gas mark 7 / 200 C fan.
Once the plait is risen, brush it with the egg yolk and sprinkle with almond flakes.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until it is golden. Fill a metal dish of boiling water and place on the lowest shelf of the oven to help give the your crust a golden colour.