This recipe- what can I say? It was festive and a very fun thing to make prior to Easter. It had a very classic taste: a soft yeast bread that would taste great with anything! Not to mention the great presentation that this bread pulls off. And don’t forget that it’s not just the eggs that make it an Easter-y recipe… it’s the fact that you let it rise again. :)
On a separate note, I have gotten some questions from people concerning thermometers. How do you know if your thermometer reads temperatures accurately? The answer is in the note that I included at the bottom of this post… it tells you how to find out if your thermometer is accurate or not. Anyway, have fun!
Italian Easter Bread Recipe (by Pennies on a Platter):
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups milk
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour
6 dyed, uncooked eggs (the eggs will cook in the oven)
For Egg Wash and other:
1 tsp. water
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork until well blended. Then, in a medium sauce pan, combine the milk, salt, butter, eggs, and sugar. Heat until the butter is completely melted, stirring constantly so that the eggs do not separate from the butter/milk mixture. Let cool to 110 degrees.
3. Run hot water over a medium bowl until the bowl is nice and warm. Using the paddle attachment, use an electric mixer to mix 2 cups of flour, yeast, and warm egg/milk mixture; beat until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, continue to slowly add the rest of the flour just until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. If necessary add more flour until it is somewhat tacky and a good texture for rolling out.
Dump the dough into the prepared greased bowl and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise in the oven until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, but do not turn the oven off yet.
4. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper (I didn’t have any at the moment so I used aluminum foil instead… that’s me, Hobo Katy). Punch down the dough and cut it into pieces. On lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a 12-inch rope (you should feel similar to a kid would make making a worm out of play-dough:). Twist two ropes together to form a sort of twisted braid, then mesh the ends together and arrange the dough in a circle; then arrange the tips underneath each other, so as to give the effect of no “seems” in the dough. Place the dough rings on the prepared baking sheets.
5. Repeat the previous step with the rest of the dough. It should make six rings of dough. Cover the rings with a towel and let it rise in the oven again (oh, how Easter-y! The bread will rise again!) until about double in size, about 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the egg wash, beat the egg and water together and brush it onto the tops of the dough rings. Lightly decorate with the sprinkles.
7. Place one raw and dyed egg in the center of ring of dough, pressing down lightly to be sure that it is secure. Bake for 15 to 23 minutes or until the bread turns golden brown.
8. Serve the “nests” warm and enjoy! Also, in case you were wondering, the eggs get very baked in the oven and are completely safe to eat. It’s just like eating a hard-boiled egg. :) Happy Lent!
If you aren’t sure that your thermometer is accurate, boil some water and see what the thermometer reads the temperature as. If it reads as 212 degrees, it is accurate. If it does not, (say it read 214 degrees) then you know that it is two degrees too hot; therefore, you should make the egg/milk mixture 108 degrees (according to your thermometer). I hope that I explained that clearly. :)