24 April 2014

Italian Easter Bread

It's been a busy week, but I feel like I've accomplished nothing and have nothing to say... so rather than bore you with all of my anxieties as I'm waiting to go in for the ultrasound this afternoon, here is the recipe and instructions for my mom's Italian Easter Bread. I know I'll lose it between now and next year if I don't write it out here!

3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3-5 dyed raw eggs

In mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour,  sugar, yeast and salt. Add warmed milk and butter. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs (not the dyed ones) and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in fruit, nuts and extract. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 

Punch dough down, divide in half and roll each to a 24" rope. Loosely twist ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet and form into a ring, pinching ends together. Tuck dyed eggs into spaces between the ropes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes and cool on a wire rack. If desired, decorate with a powdered sugar icing.

The instructions for making the dough sort of assume that the baker has the sense to read ahead and start the dough in a stand mixer so she doesn't have to beat a sticky mess by hand at high speed for two minutes... but let me assure you, in case you're as bad at reading ahead as I am, that it does turn out perfectly fine if you do it by hand!

One other thought: it says 24", and I rolled my ropes to 24", but if you want to use more than three eggs you definitely need to make the ropes longer. My mom used five eggs this year in hers, and I noticed that her ring was significantly wider and her ropes significantly thinner than mine.

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