This is a Romanian traditional recipe, usually made for the holiday of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste (9th of March). It's usually made with sugar and soaked in honey or sugar syrup, but this version is baby friendly (no sugar and very little honey on top, just to stick the ground walnuts).
It's absolutely delicious, so it can make a nice dessert or snack on any day of the year.
- 550g flour;
- 1 pack of dry yeast (9-10g);
- 220 ml warm milk;
- zest of one bio orange, grated (or 1/2 pack bio dehydrated orange zest);
- seeds of a vanilla bean (or1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla powder);
- 1 egg;
- 100g butter.
- 1 egg for brushing on top;
- 1 Tbsp honey;
- 100g ground walnuts.
Place in a bowl the dry yeast, 2 Tbsp of flour and 4 Tbsp of milk and stir firmly until you get a thick paste. Set aside and let it rise a little bit, until you prepare the other ingredients (about 10 minutes).
In a big bowl (or in the food processor's bowl) sift the remaining flour, add the vanilla and the orange zest and mix well. In the middle, make well and add the yeast paste, the egg and the remaining milk. Knead using your hand or the kneading tool of the food processor (I used the latter) for about 10-15 minutes (the dough should be pretty soft and a bit sticky), then add the melted butter and continue kneading until you get a soft, non-sticky dough.
Grease a bowl with a little oil and place the dough inside, cover with a clean towel and place it in the warmest place of the kitchen (on a high cupboard). Let rise for about 1h,
Split the dough in 2 pieces, then split again every half in two equal halves and continue until you get 16 balls of dough, of approximately the same size.
Form the wreath: Roll every ball until you get a long, thin string (about the thickness of the little finger). Bend it at the middle and braid the two halves. Put the two ends together to obtain the shape of the letter "O". Bend the "O" in the middle and turn, so you get an "8". Place the wreaths in a tray lined with baking paper. Set the tray aside and let them rise for one more hour.
Optional: lightly whisk an egg and brush it over the wreaths.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius (preheated oven) for 20-30 minutes, or until they get a golden crust.
Optional: when removed from the oven, brush them with a thin layer of honey and sprinkle some ground walnuts.
They are delicious! A bit crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside, orange flavoured and very little sweet from the honey drop on top.