Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Sweet Bread

Easter Sweet Bread
This decorative Easter bread has whole eggs baked into it! Do not cook the whole eggs, as they will bake at the same time that the bread does. The eggs can also be dyed for extra color.

1 1/2 cup very warm milk
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 tsp salt
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs beaten
5-6 cups flour
wash made of 2 egg yokes beaten and tblsp water
1/4 cup STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 or 5 pre-colored but raw Easter Eggs

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In a large bowl add yeast, 1tsp sugar and 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Set aside to proof for 5 minutes until yeast foams.

Heat the rest of the milk until tiny bubbles form around edges of pan. Remove from heat. Add butter.
Beat together sugar and eggs. Add salt, milk/butter and yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour. Beat until well mixed. Remove the dough onto a well floured surface.

Knead the dough, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the board. When the dough is smooth and satiny (it should be relatively soft rather than stiff), place it in a bowl oiled with the STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Turn to lightly oil the entire surface of the dough.

Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap (to keep the dough from sticking to it) and a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch to deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two 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. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the four or five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap (again greased) and cover with a clean towel. Let the loaf rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F for at least 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with the egg yoke and water mixture just before putting into the oven.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom with a finger. When the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.


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