|Braided Easter Bread|
Easter is coming and what better way to get into the spirit then baking some Easter Bread. This is a heavenly sweet bread with a soft and eggy taste. Just make sure you have some time to make it because the rising time of the dough is 12 hours. Well worth it!!!
This recipe is my adaptation of an Italian Easter bread. Usually, the use of anise (licorice flavour) is used but I'm not a fan. So, I just used citrus and vanilla for this recipe. I feel it gives it a nice light and refreshing taste. In addition, raisins or candied peel could be added if you desire. I also omitted the sweet icing and opted for sesame seeds....hello challah!
1 package of active dry yeast + 1 teaspoon of sugar
1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees F.)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons melted butter (85g)
1/4 cup milk (lukewarm)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
egg wash for brushing tops
1.In a stand-up mixer bowl, combine yeast and warm water, sprinkle with sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and oil. Set aside.
3. Add milk to yeast mixture followed by the egg mixture and melted butter.
4. With the dough hook attachment, combine the mixture on a low setting.
5. Add the flour in 1 cup increments and mix for about 5 minutes. If the dough looks sticky or wet add a little more flour. You want the dough to not cling to the sides or bottom of the bowl.
6. Once the dough is ready, place it in a large oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and let rise for 6 - 12 hours. You could place a damp cloth over the dough as well. I did the cloth method and found it formed a crust. Oiling the dough should have prevented this but it happens. The remedy is to moisten the formed crust with water or milk and allowed to soften before kneading.
7. Once the dough as risen for 6-12 hours (this is a slow rising dough and can rise overnight), punch it down and divide it into 4 equal parts.
8. Divide the portions into 3 strands and braid. Repeat for the other portions. Place braided bread on baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat. (2 per sheet running the width of the sheet).
9. Cover with cloth and let rise for 2 hours.
10. Brush the tops with an egg wash (1 egg+ splash of water) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
11. Place in a preheated oven of 350F and bake for 20-25 minutes. Rotate pans after 10 minutes to insure even browning. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes then remove. Bread is suitable for freezing.
Adapted recipe from Food Wishes