Happy Easter, Everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating Easter with your friends and family, eating some good food, remembering old family traditions and maybe starting some new ones! I wanted to share this Italian Easter Bread that I made today with you! It's one of my husband's family traditions, and so I wanted to make it this Easter! One of the fun things about being from different backgrounds and different countries are all the different baked treats during holidays! This is the first time that I actually made this bread successfully (there have been several disasters previously!) and I was very excited! It smells wonderful and is deliciously soft and sweet thanks to the sugary vanilla glaze on top. Here is the recipe that I used.
ITALIAN EASTER BREAD
(Recipe adapted from Taste of Home)
*Makes one bread*
YOU WILL NEED:
3 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz)
2/3 warm milk (I used fat free milk)
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs (plus another 6 dyed eggs for decoration)
1/2 cup raisins (or candied fruit)
1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
2 tsp water (or milk)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
20 drops food coloring
1 tbs vinegar
1/2 cup water
1. In your electric mixer bowl, combine a cup of flower, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix for a couple of seconds just to get everything combined. Then add warm milk and the butter and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. With the mixer running, add 2 eggs and a half a cup of flour, continue mixing for another couple of minutes until the flour is incorporated. Add the fruit/raisins and nuts at this point and stir well. Add in the rest of the flour (add in enough to make a soft dough, it may be more or less than 4 cups of flour altogether). Using the dough hook attachment on your mixer, knead the dough for 6 - 8 minutes (you could knead the dough by hand, of course, but this is so much faster and easier!) Once this step is done, form the dough into a ball, rub with a little bit of oil and place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.
2. In the meantime, you can dye your eggs and let them dry. Take your dough out, and punch it down. Then, divide it into 3 pieces, and roll each piece into about an 18 inch rope. Begin braiding your bread loosely, and tuck the two ends under the braid. Rub a little bit of oil on the part of the egg that's going to touch the bread (to prevent the color from running). Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 deg F.
3. Make your egg wash by whisking together one egg and 2 tsp of water (or milk), and brush on top of the braid, making sure that the egg wash doesn't run and touch the eggs (this is very important, as this will make the color run!!!!!) Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before glazing with sugar glaze.
4. Once the bread has cooled, make your sugar glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla extract, brush it on top of the braid and cover with colorful sprinkles. The glaze dries pretty quickly, so glaze a part and sprinkle immediately, then glaze another part and sprinkle again, and so on.
This really could have made two smaller braids, it rose a LOT and made one huge braid (a third of which is already gone - I told you it was really good!)! Or you could make smaller, individual size "nests" by making round little braids and putting one egg in the middle. The sugar glaze and the sprinkles are completely optional - the glaze just adds some extra sweetness and the sprinkles make it even prettier!
Happy Easter, Everyone!
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