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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter bread


About a day or two before Easter we receive a goodie box from the husband's mom. Every year we open this box with anticipation and excitement. There are always the most exquisite little cookies and a bread doll for each of us. This significant gesture has become a big part of Easter for me. For many others this bread conveys a traditional message or religious meaning. The bread base is somewhat similar to challah, and it comes out of the oven a rich golden brown. The variety of cookies she sends are quite extensive and the flavors are unusual. Some will have nuts, others with dried fruit or anise. There are amaretti, biscotti, bones of the dead AKA ossi-dei-morti, pignoli (my favorite), pizzelle, Italian wedding cookies (knots), ricotta, pepper, Neapolitan and date filled cookies. You can see by this incredible assortment that she is an amazing baker. I've talked about her "here" with the gnocchi.

This is my first time baking a sweet bread and the process was a very positive one. I believe the reason I had so much success with this bread was the use of both recipes and their instructions. This recipe is from the Bon Appetit April 2012 magazine. This was used in conjunction with my mother in-laws recipe. Her instructions were just a little vague and I need a lot of direction.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 large eggs, divided (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick butter room temperature  (cut into 1 inch pieces) plus 1/2 teaspoon melted
4 to 6 hard boiled eggs

To prepare:

Using a glass 2-cup measuring cup, heat in microwave about 30 seconds, need temperature to register 110F-115F. (I used a instant read thermometer). Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. (I waited 7 minutes) Add eggs, whisk until smooth.


Combine remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, flour, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running add 1/2 of the butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Then add the rest. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Turn speed up to medium high and kneed 5 minutes. (here I set the timer).

Brush a medium bowl with some of the butter, leaving some to brush on top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let set 1 1/2 hours.


Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled in size. (If refrigerated let dough set for 2 1/2 hours or more if needed, if the dough springs back it needs more time.)


Prepare baking sheet with parchment.paper.

Lightly flour hands and preparation area. Punch down dough, then divide into three equal pieces. Roll each of your pieces into long ropes using your hands, about 16 inches each.


Arrange ropes on baking sheet side by side, pinch top ends together and begin to braid. When finished pinch bottom ends together. Let rise a second time about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk remaining egg with 2 teaspoons water. Brush dough using pastry brush. Tuck in hard boiled eggs. Bake until golden. About 20 to 25 minutes. Let cook on a wire rack. Happy Easter!






36 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. I assume you heat the milk to 115F ?

    I'm eager to try this.

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    1. Yes, thank you Maureen, I will correct the instructions so they are more clear. Appreciate it.

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  2. I am making this bread tomorrow using a recipe from Paul Hollywood. I hope mine turns out just as perfectly as yours :)

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  3. This is so beautifully braided. Happy Easter!

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    1. Thanks Angie, Happy Easter to you!

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    2. Wow that looks great, this is the first time I have seen the eggs in a sweet bread - Love it!

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  4. How wonderful to have such a generous and loving mother-in-law. Her goodie baskets rival the Easter Bunny, eh? And this bread looks delicious.

    Thank you so much and Happy Easter!

    D

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    1. Hi Dena, yes that's a wonderful comparison. Thanks!

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  5. Beautiful! I've always been curious about the eggs in the bread!

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    1. Hi Karen, we always receive our bread dolls with eggs, part of the tradition. Thanks!

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  6. How original! Love the boldness of the bread! Hope you had a happy Easter! :) ela@GrayApron

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    1. Hi Ela, yes we had a nice Easter, hope yours was nice as well. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Oh my goodness, Cheri. Your braided bread looks sooo professional and scrumptious!

    P.s. How very fantabulous that your Mother-in-Law sends your Easter care packages =)

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    1. Hi Kim, I know we are pretty spoiled. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Your goodie box from your parents in law sounds such a lovely gift for the end of the lent period.
    I love your Easter bread - truly does look totally perfect!
    Best wishes,
    Emma :-)

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    1. Hi Emma, the box is like our own Easter basket, I feel very fortunate. Thanks for the comment!

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  9. This bread came out great, Cheri! Braided breads are so pretty and I love the eggs. I hope you and your family enjoyed it and had a great Easter. And that goodie box from your mother in law sounds wonderful.

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    1. Hi Monica, I was very please with the results for my first time, it really was a lot of fun. And yes the goodie box is always so appreciated. Thanks!

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  10. Your easter bread looks perfect!! I wish I had made a loaf this year!

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    1. Thanks Joanne, making bread like this was a great experience, but I still have a long way to go to rival my mom-in-law she is the best.

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  11. this is beautiful, i'm so impressed this was your first time baking sweet bread, you make it look so easy.
    do the eggs get rubbery after being hard boiled and then baked?

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    1. Hi Lan, I thought they were a little rubbery, in fact I threw ours away. I saw other recipes where people had baked them raw and they said they turned out perfectly. Thanks for stopping by.!

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  12. What a perfect baked good for Easter! Hope you had a great holiday yesterday!

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    1. Hi Natalie, yes we did. Thank you for the lovely comment.

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  13. Your mother-in-law's cookie box sounds absolutely amazing, Cheri! And the bread is just beautiful!

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  14. Wow - great job on this! I'm impressed! It's beautiful.

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  15. This is beautiful. My mom used to make a sweet Easter braid adorned with eggs. I think she used to add lemon and orange zest, and maybe a hint of anise, in the Italian style. It was delicious toasted and spread with butter. Hope you had a lovely Easter Cheri.

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    1. Hi Domenica, next time I will add some zest and anise, that sounds wonderful. Your mother sounds like an amazing cook.

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  16. This looks so pretty, and exactly what it is 'supposed' to look like :) Every year my dad would get one of these breads for us for Easter, so seeing this I immediately knew what it was, you did such a great job with it!!

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    1. Thanks Sweetphi, This was my first time making a braided bread like this and it turned out which helps me gain a little more confidence in the kitchen.

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  17. What a great job braiding the bread! I've had Easter bread on my list to make at Easter for a few years now, and somehow I never get around to it. I think I get intimidated by the braiding. You've really motivated me to make it. Maybe without the eggs since it's past Easter now :-)

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    1. Hi Susan, this was my first time and it really was pretty easy. Thanks for stopping by.

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