Introduction: Italian Braided Easter Bread
Every Easter my mother would make this bread, and today I'm passing it along to you.
Traditionally this bread was made on Holy Thursday.
Step 1: Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
4-5 raw eggs, dyed if desired
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Step 2: Preparations
The eggs need to be raw, don't hard boil them. Also, dye your eggs to make the bread more colorful. If you have a few kids lying around, they come in really handy for this.
- In a large bowl or mixer, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is melted.
- Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add the two beaten eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until all the flour is incorporated.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- I use instant yeast, so I don't need to proof it. You may need to.
- The dough will be sticky after it is mixed.
- I mix the dough in a kitchen aid mixer but I use my bread machine to let the dough rise in.
Step 3: Bread Machine Alternative
I played around with the bread machine too. I combined all the ingredients and turned on the dough cycle. I let it raise until it was doubled in size which was a little longer than the dough cycle on the machine. It seemed to work fine.
Step 4: Making the Braid
- Once the dough has doubled, deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.
- On a buttered baking sheet, form a braid with the dough, inserting the colored eggs as you go. Seal the end of the braid together.
- Wipe the dough with the egg wash and cover loosely with piece of saran wrapped sprayed with nonstick spray. On top of the saran, place a damp cloth.
- Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
- How to braid.
- I wipe the eggs with a little oil to make them look shiny.
- I like to keep the long braid but a lot of people join the two ends to form a braided ring. It's up to you.
Step 5: The Finished Product
The bread is ready when it is golden brown. The eggs will also be completely cooked.
The bread is best right out of the oven.
If you don't eat the eggs right away, store them in the refrigerator.