Preparation / Directions:
Melt yeast in warm water. Set aside. Bring milk to boil. Add sugar, butter and salt. Allow milk to cool slightly.
Put flour in a large bowl leaving about a tablespoon of it in the measuring cup for hands and make a hole in the center. Pour liquid into it. Add yeast and egg. Start mixing with spoon or paddle, pushing flour from all sides into center. Dough will be sticky until flour is absorbed. Begin kneading dough in the bowl and then transfer it to a lightly floured board. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 20 minutes.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with towel dampened with hot water. Set aside in a warm place to rise until bulk has doubled, about 4 hours.
Punch down in the middle. Knead for a few minutes and shape into a round loaf or into individual rolls (see below). Using fingers, rub top with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in greased baking pans. Let rise once more, uncovered, in a warm place, approximately 1 hour.
Bake in preheated oven at 375F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to cool 10 minutes before removing bread from pan.
To Shape Traditional KOULOURA: Divide dough into 3 long ropes. Braid together. Place braid in a greased tube pan or a large round baking pan. Stretch dough to make ends meet. Use egg yolk to stick ends together.
To Shape KOULOURAKIA Rolls: Pinch off pieces of dough. Roll on board with the palms of your hands to make a rope 6" long. Twist it into a hairpin, coil the ends around each other and stick the tips together with a dab of egg yolk. Or coil it like a snake, round and round; or roll into small round balls using the palms of your hands. Do not flatten or press down as you roll.
Source: The Complete Greek Cookbook - by Theresa Karas Yianilos Avenel Books, New York