Recipe: Traditional Easter Breads
Last week I posted a delicious recipe for Irish Soda Bread in honor of Saint Patrick's Day and my dear 90 year old Irish born maternal grandmother. Today's recipe shifts the focus to our next holiday and a different kind of loaf: Easter Bread! This traditional and decorative bread has been a part of my Italian family heritage for decades. My father was born in Calabria, Italy and for as long as I can remember his mother, my grandmother, would make her own Easter breads for all her family, friends and neighbors. Now that she is gone, my father's sisters honor her memory and their family tradition by making the bread. This year I plan on attempting my own!
To make this beautiful and unique bread, you will need:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 3 whole eggs, dyed if desired
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- (1 teaspoon of Anise - optional)
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons multicolored sprinkles or candy dragée
*A dragée - (pronounced dra-zhay) is a small sugar ball used to decorate cookies, cakes, cupcakes and candy. It is a bite-sized, colorful form of confectionery with a hard outer shell - which is often used for another purpose (e.g. decorative, symbolic, medicinal, etc.) in addition to consumption purely for enjoyment.
Recipe Steps *Have your little ones help you measure, pour and stir*
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast and stir well.
- Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.
- Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly.
- Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat everything together well.
- Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
- When the dough has pulled together, place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and workable, about 7-9 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth. Put in a warm place for about 1 hour so that dough can rise and expand to about double its size.
- Deflate the dough and place again onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equally sized rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the three colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.
- Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden.
- To make icing: Mix together the confectioner's sugar, whole milk and vanilla extract.
- Once the bread is cool, drizzle the icing on top between the eggs and decorate with colored sprinkles/ dragée.
Enjoy this bread sliced with a warm coffee or tea and some good conversation with your little ones!
Happy Spring to ALL!