Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Bread

Eggy loaf for the holiday
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | March 31, 2010

An important symbol of the end of Lent and the celebration of the resurrection, this rich, yeasted bread has as many versions as there are denominations of Christianity. In Austria and Germany, bakers produce wreaths known as osterkranz. Italians bake at least five variations, including the Sicilian centerpiece shaped like a crown of thorns; recipes differ with the addition of pine nuts, citrus zest, and candied fruits. Many cultures place dyed eggs in the bread, representing new life and spring’s fertile optimism. In Argentina, Roman Catholics favor rosca, a ring-shaped loaf topped with pastry cream and chocolate.

Enlist the children to dye the eggs. Room temperature eggs bleed less, preventing unsightly streaks on the finished loaf. A simple twist resembles traditional braids, yet can be accomplished by a novice. If twisting seems too difficult, try a ring, round loaf, or two strands intersected as a cross.

Makes 1 loaf

Butter (for the pan)
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk, heated to warm
2 eggs
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
Flour (for sprinkling)
Oil (for the bowl)
3 dyed hard-cooked eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a small pan, combine the dried fruit and brandy. Bring to a boil; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

4. In a mixer with a dough hook, mix butter, milk, and 1 of the eggs. Add the yeast mixture, and blend. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and anise seed. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.

5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and dried fruit mixture. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until dough begins to form a ball.

6. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 1 minute, or until dough is smooth.

7. Oil a bowl. Add the dough, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch strand. Lay the strands side by side, and twist together, securing both ends.

9. Place the twisted dough on the baking sheet. Carefully tuck the dyed eggs into the crevice between the strands. Cover with a clean towel. Set in a warm place, and let the dough rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

10. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water. Gently brush the risen loaf with the egg wash.

11. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, rotating from front to back after 15 minutes, or until crust is a deep golden brown.

12. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes.


1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice.

2. Place the bread and the rack on a baking sheet.

3. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf. Leave it to set.

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