When I think of Easter, I think about my Italian neighbors from my hometown in the Midwest. Lucy, my mother’s best friend and a great gardener and cook, baked Easter Bread every year. In my neighborhood, there were also families with ancestry from Germany, Scandinavia and Europe, and all of them had their own version of this holiday bread. Some of them braided and added raisins or other dried fruit; some formed it in a ring and decorated with eggs; others added frosting and non-pareils and others stuffed with savory fillings. No matter the rendition, this bread brings a smile to everyone’s face and reminds them of their own family and traditions.
So, dust off your bread machine and give this basic recipe a try or give it your own twist. I chose to make a bigger ring and fill it with herbs from my garden, but you can choose to make a few smaller ones to give as gifts or decorate differently.
It is best eaten the same day, so it’s best to rise early on the day you are serving it. The fresh-baked bread will welcome your guests on Easter Sunday or any day. This bread is best enjoyed with a glass of local Cool as Well Brut Sparkling Blanc de Blanc from Wölffer Estate Vineyard. The yeasty notes of this wine complements the buttery dough.
Preheat oven to 340 degrees
For the bread
1/4 cup of lukewarm water (110 degrees)
2/3 cup milk (110 degrees)
3/4 of softened butter (not melted)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
juice of one lemon
2 Browder’s Birds eggs, beaten
5 cups of unbleached flour
2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
For the egg decorations
Use local raw eggs from Browder’s Birds, either natural or dyed for Easter
Add the bread ingredients (do not add the extra eggs for decoration) in the precise order given above to bread machine. Process for dough cycle. Roll and shape into twisted or braided rings. Let rise. Bake at 340 degrees for apporoximately 20-25 minutes. Place your decorative eggs (raw), just before baking. They will cook to hard boiled egg stage. After baking, dust very lightly with powdered sugar and place assortment of garden herbs or edible petals in the center .