My mom just texted me (literally) and asked me if I make Easter Bread, silly mommy!
Funny thing is, when she texted I was going over my ingredients list for Easter Pies. The truth is, her cousin Karen from New York called her and asked her for her grandmother’s Easter Bread recipe and my mom doesn’t have it, but she was pretty sure I would have a recipe…don’t you fret my sweet little mommy, I’m here to help. Karen, this is for you. I’m sure it doesn’t rival my great grandmother’s Easter Bread, but I hope it will be a suitable replacement. Also, these are not pictures of my bread since Easter isn’t for 3 days-thank you Flickr:-)
*This is an excellent example of why tradition is so important. You need to cook, gather as a family and teach your children as you’ve been taught and pass down recipes, stories and talents from one generation to another. Happy Easter!!
Easter Bread with Hard Boiled Eggs
1 cup milk, whole
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, large
1 tbsp instant yeast
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 tsp anise seeds *my kids don’t like these so I leave them out
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 cups AP flour, as needed
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tbsp, softened, plus more to grease bowl
6 white or colored eggs *see below
1 large egg yolk, beaten combined with 1 tsp whole milk, for wash
*optional – 2 tsp nonpareils, colored, for garnish
To make the dough: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, sugar, eggs, yeast, lemon zest, anise seeds, and salt together Mix on low speed until combined. Gradually add 3 1/2 cups of the flour to make a thick batter. Beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time, waiting for the first addition to be absorbed before adding more. Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that cleans the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally pulling down the dough as it climbs up the hook, until the dough is smooth, shiny, and slightly sticky (do not add too much flour), 8 minutes.
Butter a large bowl. Gather the dough into a ball. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it, leaving the dough smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece of dough underneath your palms on the work surface into a 20-inch rope, tapering the ends. Line up the ropes next to each other. Starting from the center, braid the ropes to each end, pinching the rope ends together to shape into a tapered loaf. Transfer the braid to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. During the last 15 minutes of rising, rub the eggs with oil and distribute the eggs evenly over the top of the braid, nesting them in the seams.
Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.
Brush the braid lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with the nonpareils. Bake until the loaf is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve.
*To color the eggs: Purchase egg coloring dye from the store. Make sure to add distilled white vinegar to the water and dye for a more vibrant color. Dip each hard boiled egg in the coloring mixture, let stand for at least 2 minutes, or until the desired color is reached. Remove the egg from the coloring mixture and let dry on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
NOTE: I’ve read you can color raw eggs and they will cook with the bread, but I’ve never done it.