Italian Easter Tradition


Jeanne Scarpato photo

– 1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
– 1 ¼ cups milk
– ¼ tsp salt
– 1/3 cup butter
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 5 cups flour (approximate)
– 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water (for egg wash)
– 6 dyed Easter eggs, not boiled, eggs will cook in oven**
– round sprinkles or pearlized sugar

**tip:  the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled.  They cook when the bread bakes.  I usually just dye the eggs raw without hard boiling them.  Saves time.  Just be careful they don’t crack!

In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just till butter melts. In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot – it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. 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, one 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 two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Cover and let rise until double, one hour again.  Brush each bread with beaten egg wash and put on the sprinkles or pearl sugar.  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 depending on your oven. Cool on rack.

You can eat the eggs, but if you leave the bread sitting out for a four hours, don’t eat them.

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