- 1 3/4 to 2 Tablespoon dry yeast
- 1 3/4 Cup lukewarm milk, about 100 degrees, divided
- 4 Cups whole wheat flour
- 4 Cups unbleached white flour
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 Cup sugar
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt, optional
- 1/8 Teaspoon mace
- grated zest of half a lemon
- 1/2 Cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
- 1/2 Cup golden raisins
- 1 egg, beaten
- vegetable or canola oil, for greasing
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup milk.
In a large bowl, combine flours. Using a wooden spoon or a pastry cutter, work pieces of butter into flour until fine, like cornmeal; set aside a third of this mixture. (This step will make it easier to work the large amount of dough.)
In a medium bowl, dissolve sugar in remaining 1 1/4 cups milk. Stir in the eggs, salt, mace, lemon zest and the yeast mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, mix well with the flour mixture until it's incorporated. Add the reserved third of flour mixture, and mix well until a firmer dough forms, about 15 minutes. You may need to work the dough on a countertop with your hands.
Cover dough with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Transfer dough to a floured surface. Divide in half. Work almonds and raisins into each half.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Divide one dough half into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out lengthwise to 16-18 inches; braid the 4 pieces together. Transfer the braid to a greased baking sheet, laying it lengthwise.
Divide the other dough half into 4 pieces, and set 1 piece aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces out lengthwise to 16-18 inches, and braid them together. Place lengthwise on top of the first braid.
Roll the remaining piece out lengthwise to 16-18 inches. Twist it like a rope, fold it in half and place it lengthwise on top of the braided layers.
Brush loaf with egg. Bake for 50 minutes.