Bulgarian bread for New Year’s eve
1 kg flour
40 g of fresh baking yeast
250 ml of warm milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
20 g of butter
100 g feta cheese
Dissolve the yeast into a smooth paste with a little warm milk, 1 tablespoon of flour and sugar. Let rise in a warm place (21-24°C).
Sift 800 g of flour in a large bowl or a large round baking dish. Make a well and pour in all the products (from the first group), including the ready yeast. Make a smooth and non-sticky dough (adding more flour). Let rest for 1 hour in a warm place, covered with a transparent film and a kitchen towel.
When the dough rises, knead it again with a little flour. Divide it in 2 balls as big as a large orange and 3 smaller of the size of a large tangerine. Roll out one of the big balls like a pizza dough. Spread over a little melted butter and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. Then cut the dough into 8 equal parts (like a pizza) and roll each triangle into a bun. Arrange the buns in circle (symmetrically) in a wide baking dish, leaving enough space between them.
From the second largest ball of dough, make 3 long strands (as long as the outside circumference of the baking dish), then braid them into a tress. Transfer the braid in the dish, placing it on the outer end of the buns. Tuck here and there (in different elements of the bread) small wishes, noted down on pieces of paper (folded and wrapped in greaseproof paper), a coin, a garment button and a few dogwood buttons.
Roll out 2 of the smaller balls of dough like a pizza, brush with butter and cover with shredded cheese. Shape one of the “pizzas” into a small round loaf and place it in the middle of the dish to make the center of festive bread. Cut the other “pizza” in eight triangular parts, then roll them into small buns. Place them between the large buns.
Finally, make 3 thin strands of the last little ball and twist them into a braid. Put it round ad over the small loaf in the middle.
Cover the festive bread with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-50 minutes. To accelerate the process, you can place the dish over a pan of boiling water. With the steam under, the bread will rise faster (for about 15-20 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 180°C and, when the loaf doubles in volume, tuck it in. Bake until nicely golden. Brush with melted butter, when you take it out of the oven about 50-60 minutes later. Cool on a wire rack. About 20 minutes later, cover with clean kitchen cloth.