Sunday, 20 April 2014

Italian Easter Bread

Your family will be thrilled to receive these beautiful  braided sweet bread baskets on Easter morning!  As much a work of art as a wonderful treat!

Ingredients:  (Makes Six Bread Nests)

1 Package of Fleischmann's Quick Rise Instant Yeast
1 1/4 cups scalded milk cooled until warm (don't over cool, check yeast instructions for liquids temp)
A pinch of salt
1/3 cup of softened butter
2 eggs beaten (by hand in a small bowl before adding)
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (estimate) --this is approximate as you need to keep adding small amounts of flour until dough is no longer sticky (I think I added about a cup or more beyond the 3 1/2 to get the non-sticky soft dough I wanted)
6 dyed Easter eggs in assorted colours
Coloured sprinkles (nonpareils)
Egg Wash for the top of the bread:
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of cold water


According to the instructions on the instant yeast:  combine yeast with 1/3 of the flour used in your recipe and remaining dry ingredients which would be the sugar and salt.  

Stir in the warm milk.  Then add the softened butter, and beaten eggs.

Using a dough hook attachment on your mixer keep adding the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky.  As indicated in the ingredients list above, you probably will have to add a little more flour than the 3 1/2 cups that the original recipe starts with.  Just keep checking your dough after kneading or mixing (with dough hook) in the extra flour until dough is soft and no longer sticky.

You can use your dough hook or you can knead by hand if you don't have a stand mixer.

Place the smooth, not sticky dough, in a greased bowl.  Cover the bowl and keep in a warm place for about an hour. It will be about double the size.

Punch the dough down and divide into 12 even pieces (to make six nests).  I just grab off hand sized chunks of dough and adjust to make sure I get 12 balls of dough.  

Roll each piece to form a thick rope about 14 inches long.  Get two strips of rope and braid them together.  I get someone to hold one end of rope as I braid that way I can pull the pieces together to get an even braid. Pinch each end of the braid joining to form a circle (nest) with a small hole in center.

Place each rope nest on a greased baking sheet and let rise again for another hour.

Brush the risen nests with the egg wash and sprinkle with the colourful nonpariels.

Gently press a coloured egg into the center of each nest making sure the nest hugs the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees F until golden about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from one that appears on:

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