Saturday, April 7, 2012

Italian Easter Egg Bread

My Grandmother always made this interesting Italian Easter tradition…Easter Egg Bread! There is an actual colored egg baked right into the bread.  Why not try something a little different this Easter?

The Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes.  Just dye the eggs right out of the fridge - don’t crack them!

 My Mom's Italian Easter Cookies....recipe to come!

Easter Egg Bread

 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1pkg package active dry yeast

2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

1/2 tea anise seed (optional)

1/2 cup mixed candied fruit (optional)

5 whole eggs, dyed if desired

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine milk and butter and anise seed (if using) in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour and candied fruit (if using) stirring well. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. NOTE: I heat the oven to about 200 then turn it off…this makes a warm draft free place to let your bread rise.

Punch down the dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 6 sections. Take 5 sections and divide into 3 ropes. Braid the ropes into a small wreath pinching ends together. Nest the colored egg snuggly in the center of the bread. Do this 5 times. The 6th section is used to roll out a ‘cross’ to lay over each egg (an optional step if you don't do the crosses just add the 6th section into the braid!)…pinch to seal. Cover and let rise again. Bake at 350 for about 35min or until golden brown.
NOTE: I never add the candied fruit...I don't like it. But feel free to experiment. I like anise, but some in my family don't so that is something I add only on occasion.

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