Easter Braided Bread

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

 

The first days of spring always feel so tentative and so restrained: watery sunshine, pale buds. I wondered what I liked so much about this insipid season last year. And then spring burst out in its full extravagance. Suddenly there are almost endless hours of day-light (none of that hopeless saving of time). Everywhere you look there are vibrant greens bursting into life.

And then out of the blue there is Easter (was it not only just Christmas?)

As a kid Easter was spent hunting for eggs at my grandmother’s.  Usually we first coloured them with those brightartificialdyes that came in tablet form, but I will never forget the year that my uncle arrived with all these littlesachet of natural dyes….including dried red insects. (The seed for my fascination for unusual ingredients was planted at a young age :-) )

Besides painting eggs we do not really have any family Easter traditions…Except for eating together of course. This means that I am free to experiment with other people’s foody traditions :-)  One wonderful discovery has been this beautiful braided sweet bread circled around a dyed egg.

The tradition of eating sweetened bread for Easter may date back as far as the Homeric Greek period (ca. 1100–800 BC). The eggs echo the significance of Easter as they are traditionally connected with rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. Or, viewed from a more practical perspective: eggs were forbidden during Lent, after 40 days there would have been plenty of eggs that had to be used up.

This bread tastes wonderfully sweet and light; it looks stunning on any Easter brunch table.

NB: Nowadays I tend to opt for slightly less exotic ingredients for dying eggs. For some ideas pop over to my post on dying eggs with natural ingredients.

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

 

 

223 IMG_1568

 

Ingredients
(from the blog ‘Italian Dish‘)
4 breads


230ml (1,25 cups) milk
80g (1/3 cup) butter
1 package of instant yeast (about 3 tsp)
pinch of salt
80g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 eggs
350-500g (3,5 cups) flour
1 egg
6 dyed eggs (they can be dyed raw as they will bake in the oven)

 

Recipe

  1. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter until the butter just melts. Do not let the milk get too hot (or allow it too cool before adding it to the yeast).
  2. In a large bowl combine yeast, salt and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs and mix.
  4. Add the warm (not hot!) milk and butter mix.
  5. Add about half the flour and combine using the dough hooks of your mixer. Mix until smooth.
  6. Slowly add the remaining flour to form stiff dough. (The amount of flour needed will vary. You are looking for dough that is not sticky any more.)
  7. Knead the dough (either by hand or in a stand mixer) until the dough is pliable and soft.
  8. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough inside. Cover with cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled – for about one hour.
  9. Prepare two baking trays by lining them with parchment paper.
  10. Punch down the dough. Divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope (about 2.5cm / 1 inch thick and about 35cm/ 14 inch long).
  11. Taking three pieces at a time, braid them together. Loop into a circle, tucking the ends inside.
  12. Cover with cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until double – for about 30 minutes.
  13. Heat the oven to 175C (350F).
  14. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the bread.
  15. Place a dyed egg in the center of each bread, pushing it down slightly.
  16. Bake about 20 min until ht bread is golden brown.
  17. Allow to cool on a rack.
  18. Note: If you leave the bread out for a few hours you should no longer eat the eggs.

More Easter and egg recipes

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36 comments
    • afracooking said:

      Danke! Und froehliche Ostern!

  1. Bread is my weakness. This looks yummy. Such a beautiful presentation, too. Brilliant using the eggs. I did a quick search in the spice cabinet hoping — really hoping to find a packet of instant yeast, and low and behold. :D Guess what I’m making?

    Happy Easter, or is that Happy Ishtar. ;)

    • afracooking said:

      So happy to read that this recipe looked so enticing it inspired you to try it. How did it turn out? And I learned something new from you: I had to google “Ishtar” and discovered that she is being associated with Easter despite the fact that there is no real link. But then I guess combining resurrection with rabbits hiding eggs makes just as much sense  Really interesting to read up on! Thank you! :-)

      • I just finished dinner with my family, and the bread was a hit. I added a little dill weed. It was a beautiful presentation, especially with the decorated egg in the center.

        You’re not the only one who doesn’t know who Ishtar was, so don’t feel left out. Most Christians don’t realize that their tradition is actually pagan in origin, Ishtar evolved into Easter.

        *leaves dark chocolate Ishtar Easter bunny*

      • afracooking said:

        Oh, what a great idea to add dill weed. I must give that a try! It always feels like such a great reward when someone makes a recipe I have shared. The fact that your family enjoyed it, really is the cherry on my already lovely day 
        I got totally caught up in reading about Ishtar – amazingly she does not really seem to be linked to Easter. Not traditionally at least. But now now she is being associated to it. Fascinating how beliefs and traditions morph. Amazing to see that there really are no “truths” when it comes to these stories.

      • I’m so glad that made your day. And yeah, people don’t realize that when they have Easter egg hunts and put chocolate bunnies in Easter baskets that they are celebrating the goddess of fertility. Those founding church fathers were brilliant, eh? :twisted:

    • afracooking said:

      Such a great compliment! Thank you!

  2. That is ridiculously perfect and amazing! Love!

    • afracooking said:

      That is so sweet of you to say! Makes me glow :-)

  3. What a gorgeous bread Afra :). And thanks for the insight on the use of eggs during Easter :). Happy Easter!

    • afracooking said:

      You know that it really didn’t dawn on me until today that ofcourse there would have been tons of eggs around after people had fasted for so long :-)

  4. Wow this bread is gorgeous–how did you get the braid so perfect!!? Looks delicious for an Easter day brunch!

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you darling, I think the secret is not to use three ropes as you would for a real braid, but only to use two. It makes it much easier to get an even ‘braid’.

      • afracooking said:

        I actually woke up in the middle for the night and realized that this time I didn’t make two strand braids but that I actually made a regular braid using three strands :-) So funny how you can do something out of habit without realizing :-) So in the end I guess there is no secret at all to it :-) Thanks for making me realize (I have fixed the instruction as well)

  5. Wow, these look so artistic and lovely Afra!! The bread reminds me of the beloved “Zopf” bread (which means braids translated) that we usually eat on Sundays in Switzerland – so good!! I wish you a wonderful Easter!

    • afracooking said:

      :-) Danke schoen, ein tolles Kompliment :-) Du bist Schweizerin ?! …das war mir noch gar nicht aufgefallen. Froehliche Ostern!

      • Liebe Afra! Wow, und Du sprichst Deutsch? Ist mir bis jetzt auch noch nicht aufgefallen! ;-) Steht auch nicht auf Deinem Blog, oder? Von wo bist Du denn genau? Hoffe Du hattest ganz schöne Ostern! liebe Grüsse, Sylvia

      • afracooking said:

        Hallo sylvia, was fuer eine ueberraschung :-) Deutsch ist meine muttersprache – naja, meine vatersprache. Bin ich mit gross geworden obwohl ich schon seit kindheit in den niederlanden wohne (internationale schule und so). Ich haette es beir dir auch nie gedacht, dass du deutschsprachig bist ;-) Wie lang lebst du schon in den US? Fuehlst du dich (noch immer) schweizerin?

      • Liebe Afra, wow, so spannend Deine Geschichte ;-) Ich wohne seit 2 Jahren in den USA, ist ja nicht so lange, und ich fühle mich auf jeden Fall als Schweizerin ;-) Naja, ich bin ja auch etwas ein Mix, meine Mutter ist Thailänderin. Ich würde mich wohl auch als eine Art “World Citizen” bezeichnen, Reisen ist schon super wichtig für mich! ;-) Aber am schönsten ist es immer noch zurück in die Schweiz zu reisen. Und Du? Als was fühlst Du Dich am ehesten? Holländerin in dem Fall? ;-) lg

      • afracooking said:

        Sorry, das meine antwort so lang auf sich hat warten lassen – war eine hoellisch volle woche. Ich verstehe was du meinst mit “world citizen”. Das gefuehl teile ich! Ich fuehle mich weder hollaenderin, noch deutsche. Gefuehlsmaessig Europaerin mit einem touch afrika. Ehrlich gesagt weiss ich nicht einmal wie sich eine nationale zugehoerigkeit ueberhaupt anfuehlen sollte :-)

  6. I love these zesty breads with a light & buttery crumb. There’s something so delicious about celebrating festivities with our favourite foods too! Have a great weekend :)

    • afracooking said:

      I just love holidays: a table full of food surrounded by family and friends, life doesn’t get much better than that :-)

      • We’re so lucky here in Australia. We have yet another long weekend up next so that’s 4 public holidays in a week and a half! (3 over Easter, 1 for Anzac day) :)

      • afracooking said:

        Now I am in about as much of a twist as my bread ;-) Na, happy for you. Enjoy it!

    • afracooking said:

      Aw, thank you! Wishing you are great Easter weekend as well. x

  7. I made your georgous bread yesterday before noon & my mother-in-law & guests loved it so much! It was a lovely Easter treat,…ooh yeahhh! xxx

    • afracooking said:

      Oh, you have no idea how special it is to hear that you actually cooked a recipe I shared. Makes me ever so happy! Big hug my dear friend! x

  8. These look fantastic! I love Easter, everything around this time of year is so delicious!

    • afracooking said:

      After reading your fabulous recipe for “using up” left-over easter eggs it does not suprise me you love easter ;-) x

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you, Mary!

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you so much! It really tastes as good as it looks :-)

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