The other day, a friend of mine asked if I had any Easter Bread recipes for Challah with dyed Easter eggs. I do, in fact.
A couple of years ago I made Greek Easter Bread, which is challah (or a bread braid) with red-dyed eggs. There’s a story behind that bread. I made it for a family get together and to save time, I decided to transport the shaped, but uncooked braids (with the eggs in them) to my sister’s house while they were on their final rise. While in route, the baking sheets that the braids were on, proceeded to slide off the car seat. I was able to catch the breads before they slid onto the floor and were completed inedible, but some of the eggs cracked and the braids got smashed. I was so upset I almost went home. Then, I remembered, it’s only bread. So I took the messed up loaves to my sister’s house, reshaped the braids and baked the loaves. The bread looked a little worse for the wear, but it tasted great.
When the recipe for this Traditional Italian Easter Bread came across my inbox, I decided to give Challah with dyed Easter Eggs another chance. As it turns out, I really like the preparation for this version. The braids are smaller so they are really easy to work with and the eggs are not cooked before coloring. You color them, then bake them with the bread. This made much more sense to me; however, I was a bit skeptical the eggs would get cooked all the way through.
This is a fun and easy bread to make. I didn’t have to transport these braids anywhere so no mishaps this time.
Traditional Italian Easter Braids
Makes: 6 Braids
- 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 1¼ cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
- pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- 4.5 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- 6 dyed Easter eggs
Note: The Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled before dying them. They cook when the bread bakes. Just be careful not to crack the eggs while you’re dying them. The eggs below were taken right out of the refrigerator, dyed, and left to try before inserting in the braids.
1) In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Add enough flour so that the dough is not sticky. The original recipe called for about 3 1/2 cups of flour. I used 4 1/2 cups plus a little extra for kneading.
2) 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.
3) Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces.
4) Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long.
5) Take two pieces and twist to form a “braid”.
6) Pinch the ends, and loop into a circle.
7) Place on a greased baking sheet.
8) Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again.
9) 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.
10) Bake at 350 degrees until golden – about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool on rack.
This bread is delicious! It is an enriched and sweet dough. It could be eaten as dessert. I was concerned that the egg wouldn’t get cooked all the way through, but it baked really well and tasted great.
I gave several of the loaves away. They’re too cute and taste too good to keep for myself.
I especially enjoy baking bread on the weekends and allowing the dough to slow ferment to bring out the flavor and nutritional properties of the bread.
Over the years, I've become enamored with grains.So you'll find me experimenting using different types of heritage and ancients grains.Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't, but it's all part of the experience.I invite you to join me on this bread-baking journey.
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