Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Its that time of year isn't it. Pastels and chocolate bunnies abound. Here in Montana we still have snow on our ground and its falling still. I’m just not feeling the early Easter! In an attempt to reconnect myself to this holiday, I made a bread that my mom used to make when I was young. It is a pretty, braided egg bread that you tuck your dyed eggs into before baking. The cool thing is that you dye your eggs when they are raw and they steam through as the bread bakes around them. The finished product tastes really good- so good that I just ate a third of it all by myself. Iknow the memories of this bread make it taste even better.

I ate mine when still warm and served with melted honey butter. If you don't like to bake bread, or are afraid of this venture don't be! I’m not very skilled with yeast breads, and this came out wonderfully. Its a great recipe to try and fun to make with young children.

Braided Easter Bread


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast, or 2.5 teaspoons of yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
5 whole raw eggs, dyed if desired
egg wash- one egg yolk whisked with some cream and a tiny pinch of salt
sugar to sprinkle on top


1. In your Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well.
2. Combine milk and butter. Heat in a small saucepan or in your microwave until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted(if the butter melts, its not a big deal).
3. With the mixer running on medium low, gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture. If you need to scrape the bowl go ahead and do so.
4. Turn mixer off, and add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; mix well on medium speed.
5. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
6. Switch from your whisk attachment to the dough hook and turn on high for about 6 minutes to knead. This is a wet, sticky dough, so don’t expect it to look like a regular bread dough that is made with only flour,water and yeast.
7. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
8. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. On your greased baking sheet (I used butter, but parchment would work fine too)loosely braid the two pieces of dough by simply overlapping them lengthwise. Seal the ends of the ring together by pinching and use your fingers to slide the 5 eggs between the braids of dough. As the dough bakes and rises, the eggs tend to push themselves up and out, so start the bread with the eggs worked down between the braids to counteract their movement.
10. The dough will need to go through its last rise, which takes about 45 minutes or so. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm spot. If you don’t have a warm place, just let the dough rise a bit longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Brush risen loaf with egg wash, but don’t brush anything over the eggs-if they’re brushed with anything they may bleed their color onto the bread. Sprinkle with your choice of sugar-colored is pretty this time of year.
2. Bake in the center of your preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden. If your bread starts to get too brown, place some foil on top of it until its time to come out.
Let the bread cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in. You’ll also want to let the eggs continue to steam and avoid eating them for the first 20 minutes or so while they set up.

No comments: