Italian Easter Bread

Montana Bowl of Cherries

Italian Easter Bread is among our favorite Easter dinner traditions.  Dyed eggs, nestled in this beautiful wreath bread are fun to dye and fun to eat.  The recipe calls for 8 eggs, 2 are mixed in the bread.  Five eggs are dyed raw and baked in the bread.  The last egg is brushed on the bread before baking.   We use eggs from our chickens.  Some of the eggs we use without dying because the shells of our eggs are naturally beautiful.  The white ones we dye.

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Some Products That Make Me Look Like a Baker

I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer!  Making bread is so much fun and I love kneading it but using my Kitchen-Aid gives an amazing smooth texture that I have trouble getting by hand kneading.

One more really great product that I use is saf-instant instant yeast, the one with the red label.  I have used this product for years and when I started using it was when I really saw an improvement in my bread making.  The improvement was that now my family eats my bread instead of it just sitting on the counter until it got old and I give it to the chickens.  With saf-instant, the yeast just goes in with the other ingredients instead of mixing separately.  The biggest differences are that the bread rises quicker and the texture is lighter.

Montana Bowl of Cherries

Italian Easter Bread

Rhonda
Italian Easter Bread uses a variation of Brioche dough with citron and almonds added in.  The colored eggs are baked in so be sure to color them raw.
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

  • 3-31/2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp yeast rapid rise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water warm (90-100 degrees F)
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 8 eggs divided use
  • 1/2 cup chopped, mixed, candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup almonds slivers
  • vegetable oil

To dye the eggs

  • 1 tbsp vinegar white-per cup
  • 5 drops food color per cup
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water per cup

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl of Kitchen Aid mixer, combine 1 cup flour, honey, yeast, salt, 2 eggs, and warm water.  Using the dough hook, begin mixing on low.  Stop mixer every once in a while to scrape flour back into mixture.  Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until bread dough forms.  During last flour addition, add fruit and almonds.  
    Once the dough forms, I usually let the mixer run for about 5 minutes so bread mixes for about 8 minutes.  The dough shouldn't be too sticky so that it sticks to your fingers but it also shouldn't be too stiff to work.  A good test is to stop the mixer and pick out a bit of dough.  As you work it between your fingers, watch for the dough to be pliable without sticky.  As you stretch the dough, it should stretch thin without breaking.Leave dough to raise, covered with a clean cloth, for about an hour. 
     While it is raising color the 5 raw eggs: Each egg needs to be rubbed with vegetable oil so it doesn't stick in the bread dough.
    When the dough is doubled, take it out of the mixing bowl to a table or countertop.  Divide the dough in half.  I usually use a scale.  Roll each dough half into a 24-inch long rope.  Loosely twist ropes and form into a ring by joining the 4 ends together.  Place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan lined with parchment paper sprayed with vegetable oil.  Gently split the ropes and tuck in eggs evenly around the ring.  Cover again. 
     Leave to raise 1/2-1 hour until dough doubles again.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush dough with remaining egg white.  Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.  

Notes

The eggs have baked in the oven and can be eaten or used like hard boiled eggs.  Because of the eggs, this bread needs to be stored in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving.
Keyword Italian Easter Bread

Mixing Italian Easter Bread

Montana Bowl of Cherries Italian Easter Bread
My KitchenAid mixer gives beautiful texture to this and all my other breads

Another great trick in bread making to keep it soft longer after baking, is called the Tangshong method.  I learned about this method from King Arthur Flour’s blog, Flourish.  If you click on the link, you can learn all about this method from there.  For today, I will give you the instructions as it pertains to our Italian Easter Bread.

Start by mixing 3 tablespoons flour and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Bring it to a boil while stirring and immediately remove from the heat.  Continue stirring while it cools a bit so it doesn’t kill the yeast and cook the eggs.  It will kind of be a gravy consistency.  If you cook it too long it will get too thick, though, so just pull it off the heat when it comes to a boil.

Now scrape the thickened water into the mixing bowl and add the other 1/4 cup water, honey, 1 cup of flour, 2 of the eggs, yeast, and salt in the mixing bowl.  Using the dough hook, begin mixing these ingredients.  I stop the mixer occasionally while everything is getting started to push the flour down into the liquids until a dough forms.

Kneading the Dough

Keep adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until a dough forms.  The dough needs to be soft enough to work but stiff enough to hold the rope shape.  Along with the last 1/2 cup of flour add the fruit and the almonds.

When I use the KitchenAid to mix bread, I let it knead for about 5 minutes after I add the last of the flour.  Then I stop the mixer and check the consistency of the dough.  I don’t want it to stick to my fingers but I want it to be pliable and soft.  When I stretch it thin, it should thin out without breaking, like bubblegum.

Take out the dough hook and cover the dough with a clean towel.  Leave it to rise for about an hour or so until it is doubled in size.

Dying the Eggs

Montana Bowl of Cherries dyed eggs
The raw eggs oiled and ready to go in the bread. I didn’t dye the blue or brown one

While the dough is raising, get the 5 eggs dyed.   Every time, I have to remind myself that I am working with raw, not boiled eggs.  I worry that I will drop one and break it in the cup.

I use coffee mugs to dye eggs.  They hold the egg well and that’s how Mom did it.  Sometimes the dye stains the inside of the cup for a while so don’t get upset with me if that happens to you.

For Italian Easter Bread, I just use food coloring and vinegar to dye the eggs.  I only need one of each color so it is the cheaper way to go.

In each cup, I put 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 5 drops of food coloring.  If you combine colors to make up the 5 drops, you can create your own colors-3 of red and 2 of yellow make an orange but 2 of red and 3 of yellow make a brighter orange.

Add enough water to each cup to cover an egg.  The water doesn’t need to be hot to do the job.  Immerse one egg in each cup and leave it there until you get the color you like.  The longer in the dye, the deeper the color.

When the eggs are the color you want, remove them from the dye and dry them off.  The eggs need to be rubbed with oil before they are put in the bread wreath so I do that when I dry them off.

Assembling the Bread

Montana Bowl of Cherries dough ropes
Roll the 2 dough halves into 24″ ropes

Prepare a cookie sheet or pizza pan by covering with parchment and spraying the parchment with vegetable oil spray.  When the dough is doubled, put it on a work surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Roll each half into a 24 inch rope.  Loosely twist the ropes together and pinch all four ends together to form a wreath.  Place the wreath on the prepared baking sheet.

Gently create spaces between the coils to place the eggs.  Try to evenly space them around the dough wreath.  Cover the wreath with the towel again and let it raise for another 1/2-1 hour until it is puffy and almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Beat 1 egg white in a bowl and brush the top and sides of the bread.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm or store in refrigerator until served.  The eggs are now cooked through and need refrigeration.

Montana Bowl of Cherries

Send a picture of your creation.

 

Happy Easter!

 

About Rhonda 41 Articles
Rhonda Brown lives in rural eastern Montana, surrounded by her family, chickens, gardens and dog. When she isn't writing or weeding, she loves spending time with her family, baking, and all things CHOCOLATE.

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