Sweet bread recipe, or Albanian Easter bread, made with coconut sugar and spelt flour. This healthy homemade bread has a dough consistency that is simple to work with. Make this bread into rolls or braided bread. Either way, the mixing methods are easy and the outcome is a light and fluffy bread one can not resist!
(This recipe does contain Spelt, which is not gluten-free but is a better flour in place of wheat and ok for those with a mild case of gluten-sensitivity. I created this recipe before transitioning into a gluten-free blog.)
We rarely buy store bought breads in our house. I am a control freak and I love to control the ingredients. It is kinda more work for me, but I can not resist sinking my teeth into warm fresh fluffy bread straight out of the oven! There really is no comparison. If you happen to be close-by you can probably smell the sweet coconut sugar melting into nutty spelt flour in my oven at any given time. And you can probably hear the leavening process happening when I put together this sweet bread recipe because it happens so frequently. I only bake with white spelt flour and I think it gives bread the same consistency as white flour just without the stomach bloating gluten. The dough consistency is the same as well.
This sweet bread recipe is not as easy as a quick bread like gluten free pumpkin bread, cranberry nut bread or my gluten free banana pecan bread recipe, but it sure is worth the rising wait! It is slightly tedious, but this is the best bread recipe I have ever tried. Maybe I am slightly biased because the original recipe came from my godmother, passed down to my mother, who passed it down to me. And of course I tweaked it to be healthier. Growing up we had this sweet bread recipe (Albanian Easter Bread) every holiday that can remember. My mom especially made it at Easter and Christmas holidays. It is the kind of bread that is like a bag of potato chips – you can't just have one, you have to eat the whole bag (if it were served in a bag!)!
The history behind Albanian Easter bread is that in Albania, on Easter, they pick a goat, slaughter it and bake traditional Easter bread. Since we don't eat red meat, we will just enjoy our holiday bread even when it is not the holidays.
This sweet bread recipe is a 3 step process; Yeast settling. Dough rising. Baking. First you want to scald the milk then let it cool to lukewarm before combining the yeast (the rising agent). To scald milk, heat it in a small pan on the stove top so it bubbles slightly around the edges but does not boil. Scalding the milk improves the bread rise due to certain chemical changes it caused to milk proteins. These changes improve some bread recipes and yogurt recipes. Next add only a bit of the flour, sugar and spices with eggs and coconut oil. The result is a a very liquid yeast base. Place this in the oven covered with a bowl of water underneath on a lower baking rack. Keep the oven off, just cover the dough. This allows no draft to get in but keeps the dough able to rise in a cozy warm place. After about an hour add the remaining flour to complete the mixing methods and knead the dough for about 3-5 minutes to remove air pockets. This also allows the chemical leavening process to continue. In the end the dough consistency will be slightly sticky. Spray a bowl with cooking spray then set the dough there to continue to rise in the oven the same way as the first method.
After the second rising process, add as much flour as needed to have the dough manageable to form into a dough mound, strips for braiding or rolls. When I made it in to rolls I did not add much extra flour. I just sprayed a baking pan and placed droplets of dough about 1 inch apart. Then let it set for about 30 minutes to settle and rise before basting with egg and baking. After baking it you easily have delicious pull apart bread! So fluffy, sweet and mouth watering! Basting the dough with egg yolk before baking also gives a crunch and added flavor to the exterior of the bread.
Serve with homemade honey butter: 1 Tablespoon of honey whipped with 1/2 cup of butter. If unsalted, add a pinch of salt.
To braid this sweet bread recipe:
Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece out to form three long strips. Connect the three pieces at the top and start braiding. Then pinch the three pieces at the bottom to seal it together. Stretch it into a circle to form a wreath before baking.
It is quite a process to make this amazing healthy sweet bread recipe but totally worth it! I double up the recipe. And I suggest you do the same. That way you can freeze half the rolls for another time. Serve at a random happy hour or dinner party in little sandwiches and be the star hostess!
- 1 package dry yeast
- 2/3 cups milk I use cashew milk or coconut milk
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tsp. coconut sugar
- 3 cups Spelt flour
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
- 2 Tablespoons warm water
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 beaten egg for basting
- *optional sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
- Heat a small sauce pan on the stove at medium-high heat to scald the milk. Scald milk in the pan on the stove top so it bubbles slightly around the edges but does not boil. As soon as the edges start to bubble remove from the heat. Let cool to lukewarm.
- Once the milk has cooled to lukewarm transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Combine the milk, yeast, 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix well. Cover and set for 1 hour in a warm place or in the oven with it off and a bowl of warm water on a baking rack below.
- After 1 hour add to your yeast mixture 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, 2 beaten eggs. Mix well. Slowly add melted coconut oil and continue to mix so the oil does not harden. Stir into a dough. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of flour. Knead for about 3-5 minutes and add more flour if needed. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl to rise. Cover and let rise in a cooled oven with a bowl of water underneath for about 3 hours.
- Remove from oven the preheat oven at 375 Degrees F.
- On a floured surface, divide dough into thirds. Pinch at the top and braid. Pinch at the base and make into a circle. Bast the top of the bread with 1 egg yolk. Sprinkle with optional sesame seeds. Bake 20-25 minutes.
- *FOR ROLLS: Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place 2 inch dough rounds about 1/2 in apart so you have a total of 12 rolls. Let rise 30 minutes. Baste the tops of the rolls with 1 egg yolk. Sprinkle with optional sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes.