Mary Vitti’s Belated Easter Egg Bread

This is a recipe I made for Easter at the Bakery. I made it for this Easter too but never got a chance to post it. Sorry. It’s a recipe from my friend Sal’s mother and it’s really good. I can only imagine growing up in Sal’s house when he was a kid. The house probably smelled so great at every holiday. And the sweet smell of this bread probably wafted through the house announcing that the Easter bunny was on his way. I heard through the grapevine that she sent five loaves out to each family member this year. Five loaves, four brothers and who knows how many grandkids. That’s a lot of bread making. It’s across between a Brioche and Challah bread and it is really delish. It’s dense, sweet and lemony. It’s perfectly tasty alone or with butter or jam spread all over it. It makes one large loaf or four smaller loaves. I opt to make the smaller loaves and give them out to friends. They also freeze very well. Just remove the egg cause you probably won’t want to eat a defrosted egg. One warning: this bread takes all day to make so think ahead, like a day ahead.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs (uncooked and dyed if you like)
  • 2 packages (4-1/2 tsp.) yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup shortening (or 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg white
  • 4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • non pareills sprinkles

Directions

Dissolve yeast and 1/2 cup water, let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cup flour. Stir yeast mixture and add to flour and water mixture, mixing well. Beat until smooth using the paddle attachment on a your mixer. Cover bowl with a towel and let stand in warm place for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Meanwhile, cream shortening (or butter), lemon zest, and juice. Gradually add sugar and salt. Beat eggs and egg white until thick and add to sugar mixture in third’s, beating well after each addition. Add yeast mixture to shortening batter. Add about 1/2 of the flour to yeast mixture and beat until smooth. Mix in enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface. Place in greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to double, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down and divide into two balls for one large loaf or 4 balls for 4 small loaves, let stand 10 minutes. Roll each ball into a long rope about 36 inches long and 1 inch thick. Form a loosely braided ring, leaving space for the eggs. (see pics below) Place dough rings on a parchment covered baking sheet. Place eggs in spaces, cover loosely with a towel. Set aside to double. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Then brush dough with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 1 Tbsp. milk. Sprinkle with non pareils. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes for one loaf or 30 – 35 minutes for 4 small loaves or until bread is golden brown.

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