A FEW weeks ago, Shirley Friesen wrote in with a request for the braided egg bread that used to be sold at Michel's Bakery cafe in Polo Park. We don't have that specific version, but thanks to Linda Snider of Glenboro and to Beausejour's Edna Mroz, who sent in the recipe below. This rich, slightly sweet bread goes by different names in different eastern European traditions, and it's also a popular Easter bread. Also in time for Easter, June K. sent in a recipe for classic devilled eggs.
Currently, Mary W. hopes someone knows the recipe for the baba ghanoush formerly made at Norm's Meats, which is now closed, and for the orange muffins and oatmeal date sandwich cookies made at the ever-popular lunch counter at Harman's drug store in the 1980s. And Lorraine Turner hopes someone knows the secret to Kelekis's famous fries. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to email@example.com, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Braided egg bread
250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
60 ml (1/4 cup) butter or hard margarine
75 ml (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
125 ml (1/2 cup) warm water (38 C or 100 F)
10 ml (2 tsp) granulated sugar
2 x 8g (1/4 oz) packets active dry yeast
2 large eggs, beaten well
approximately 1.5 L (6 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
15 ml (1 tbsp) butter or hard margarine, softened, for brushing tops
In a small saucepan over medium heat, scald milk. In a large bowl, place first amount of butter, first amount of sugar and salt. Pour scalded milk over top and stir to melt butter. Cool to lukewarm.
In small bowl, stir together warm water and second amount of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir. Add to lukewarm milk mixture. Add beaten eggs. Work in enough flour that the dough pulls away from side of bowl. (You might need more or less than the 1.5 L amount.) Knead on a lightly floured surface for 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Form dough into a ball. Place in large greased bowl, turning dough once to grease top. Cover with tea towel. Let stand in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down. Divide into 2 portions. Cut each portion into 3 equal parts. Roll each part into a 50 cm (20 in) rope. Pinch the ends of 3 ropes together and then braid, folding under ends. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes. Place two loaves on one very large or two regular greased baking sheet -- make sure there is enough room for loaves to expand -- cover with tea towel, and let stand in a warm place for about 45 minutes. Bake in a 190 C (375 F) oven for about 30 minutes. Brush loaves with second amount of butter and place on racks to cool. Makes 2 loaves.
Tester's notes: Rather than brushing butter on the baked loaves, I used an egg and water wash -- made with 1 beaten egg and 5 ml (1 tsp) water -- and applied it to the tops of the loaves midway through baking. This made for a shiny, richly coloured crust. You can also add sesame seeds, poppy seeds or -- if you want to be really festive for Easter -- dyed raw eggs gently tucked into the braid. (The eggs will cook with the bread.) If the loaves are browning too fast, you can tent with foil for the final minutes of baking time.
Classic devilled eggs
60 ml (1/4 cup) mayonnaise
45 ml (3 tbsp) sour cream
1 ml (1/4 tsp) dry mustard
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
1 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper
Paprika to garnish
Gently place eggs in the bottom of a pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add enough cold water to cover them by 2.5 cm (1 in). Cover and bring to a full boil over high heat. When the water boils, immediately remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 18-23 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl filled with ice water -- replace water if it becomes warm -- or run cold water over eggs until cool. To peel, gently tap large end and then small end of egg on a hard surface to crack shell. Gently crack shell all over and then very gently roll egg in your hand to loosen shell.
Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out yolks. In medium bowl, mash yolks, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and salt and pepper until smooth. Spoon into egg whites and garnish with paprika.
Tester's notes: This is a good basic recipe, and you can make variations by adding minced sweet pickle, crumbled bacon or smoked salmon. This is also a great technique for hard-boiled eggs. Starting with cold water keeps the eggs from cracking, and the slower, gentler cooking method helps avoid discoloured yolks and rubbery whites.
And if you have a problem with hard-to-peel eggs, which can result in hacked-up, ugly whites, here's a tip that really works: Try adding about 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda to the cooking water. It helps the membrane stick to the shell rather than the egg white.