Combine the ☆ ingredients in a container, and leave to pre-proof. When it is bubbly and the mixture is 2-3 times its original volume, it's done. This takes about 10 minutes.
While the step 1 mixture is pre-proofing, combine the bread flour, sugar, butter and lukewarm (40°C) milk in a bowl, and mix together with your fingers.
When the yeast has finished proofing, add it to the step 2 bowl and mix in well again. Finally, add the salt and knead it in well.
When the dough has come together in the bowl, transfer it to a work surface. Knead it well by pushing it out away from you, rolling it up and repeating.
When the surface of the dough is smooth and finely textured, round it off into a ball with a smooth surface. Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Leave the dough for its 1st rising, about an hour at 35°C, until it's 2 to 2.5 times its original volume.
Transfer the dough gently to a floured work surface, and slap it down with both palms to deflate. Cut into 4 wedges using a pastry cutter.
Fold the dough towards the center and round it off. Cover with a tightly wrung out moistened kitchen towel and leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Mix the grated lemon zest and granulated sugar together well.
Take the dough out from under the kitchen towel, and roll out with a rolling pin to about 15 x 10 cm.
Divide the step 9 sugar-lemon mixture into 4 portions. Spread the mixture and the sliced almonds on the rolled out dough, leaving 2cm clear on one side. Roll it up to form a cylinder.
Pinch the seam securely closed.
Place the dough seam side down, and make two cuts in it, leaving 2cm at the end. When you cut the dough, the layers of the dough will be revealed, so be careful not to destroy them when you cut.
Braid the dough, and pinch the ends together. Fold the pinched ends under the roll a little, which secures them.
Line up the braided rolls on a kitchen parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with a tightly wrung out moistened kitchen towel and leave for the 2nd rising for 30 minutes at 35°C.
Brush the rolls with melted butter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, then cool on a rack. Done.
Story Behind this Recipe
I wanted to eat a sweet bread, so I made these with ingredients I had on hand.
Mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar together just before using. See how the bread is rising, and shorten or lengthen the rising time. Don't braid the bread too tightly. Braid it loosely but without leaving any gaps.