I so wanted to get this blog posted BEFORE Easter so that you too could serve this delicious bread on your Easter table this year but things didn't quite work out the way that I had planned. Last week was super busy with 5 separate catering orders that needed to be prepared and delivered in addition to hosting our own Easter dinner for family and friends. Needless to say, this bread almost never happened, but thanks to my very helpful family members - I managed to pull it off - even if it was still baking at 11:00 on Easter eve.
This recipe came from sprinklebakes.com and believe me - it's just as delightful to eat as it is to look at. It is so pretty and it really is as good as it looks. I love that fact that the egg cooks in the oven while the bread is baking too.
Italian Easter Bread
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup/76g unsalted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup/100g sugar
3 to 4 cups/ 408 to 544g bread flour (approximate)
1 teaspoon water
6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer.
Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined.
Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour.
Gently deflate the dough with a fist.
Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces.
Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length.
Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together.
Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup.
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture.
Sprinkle on the nonpareils and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant.
Since I didn't get this recipe posted in time for your Easter dinner, I think you could easily remove the egg and bake this bread for any festive celebration. This would be perfect for birthday dinners or with the right colored sprinkles, maybe even a 4th of July party. (Ah, the wheels are turning now.) I have a feeling that you will see modifications of this recipe in the future - perhaps with green sprinkles for St. Patrick's Day.
It was hard to stop myself from taking pictures of this beautiful ring of Easter bread. It was really pretty but that definitely didn't stop us from eating it. It was REALLY good.