Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Easter Bread and traditions...

Well it looks like spring is finally here, even though we have snow in the forecast early next week. Last night I stayed up late to make some of this Italian Easter Bread that I had pinned. It looks so good and I always like to make a fresh bread on the holidays. I never had this bread before, nor had I ever heard of it; so I asked around and apparently its a tradition that is taken very seriously in some Italian homes. 

The only traditions that I recall from my childhood during Easter would be the typical church with Mommo, dinner at moms, dying eggs, and let us not forget the awful pink frilly dresses! I used to wish I came from a huge Italian family, something out of the Sopranos' without all the violence and crime. 

Do you and your family have any traditions? 

This bread is fairly easy and it is delicious, the whole process took a few hours. The original recipe called for a pinch of salt, I changed it to 1/4 teaspoon and it still wasn't enough, so next time I would up it to 1/2 teaspoon, it was just a little on the flat side for flavor. 

Start off with room temperature ingredients, and warm milk in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Mix yeast, warm milk, and sugar in mixing bowl fitted with dough hook. Let this sit for a few minutes to activate yeast, you will notice bubbles and some reaction happening in the bowl. 

Next add eggs, flour, butter, and salt in this order, its important to not put salt in direct contact with yeast, as it will kill it. 

Mix on high until dough comes together, I needed to add more flour as it was too sticky (see pics).  
The dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl and makes a "galloping" noise.

Place in a grease bowl and turn dough to coat in oil, cover with a towel and place in a warm draft free place for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Pour dough out onto a clean surface and cut into 12 equal sized portions.

Roll each piece into a 14' rope and twist into "braid" or a braid for larger loafs. I made the 2 braids for Easter dinner. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 1 hour, this is the second proofing.

Place each "nest" onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush on egg wash, sprinkle with non perils, and place a colored non hard boiled egg in center. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350º F oven, rotating pan half way through baking. 

Serve warm and dip bread into egg!

such a soft interior, it does remind me a little of Hawaiian bread...

Even this picky little guy loved them!

Italian Easter Bread

makes 6 "nests"

2 1/4 teaspoons, dry active yeast
1 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
1/3 Cup Butter, Softened
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
5 Cups Flour

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, place yeast, warm milk, and sugar. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes until yeast is active.
Cover with Flour, butter, eggs, and salt.
Mix on high until dough pulls away from bowl. More flour may be needed, add in small increments.

Place dough in a grease bowl, cover with kitchen towel, and let rise for 1 hour until doubled in sized.

Cut dough and portion in equal sizes. Shape dough and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again. 

Brush with egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon cream), sprinkle with non perils, and place a dyed non cooked egg in center.

Bake in 350ºF oven for 20-25 minutes, turning pan half way through baking.

Serve warm.

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