Sunday, April 12, 2009

Italian Easter Bread

Italian Easter Bread

I found this great recipe on The Italian Dish

1 package Rapid Rise yeast

1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature

pinch of salt

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sugar

3.5 cups flour (approximate)

1 egg, beaten with

1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs right out of the fridge, without hardboiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don't crack!

In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends, and loop into a circle.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.

*For a non traditional twist you can place a plastic egg with other treats inside once the bread has completely cooled. I have also omitted the egg wash and brushed the cooked bread with honey butter and then sprinkles.

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