Easter Bread: Braided Bread

by beth on April 23, 2011

We started the tra­di­tion of hav­ing an Easter bread sev­eral years ago in our home.  At first we bought it because there is a great Greek bak­ery near by that sells it.  After a while though Mike began to won­der if we could make it.

Turns out we could or more impor­tantly HE could, since he is the one who took on the change.  And it wasn’t that hard to make & fig­ure out what worked best.  For some rea­son bread by hand always seems hard, to me any­way, but really it’s not.

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So Mike went through the jour­ney of find­ing out how make this bread tak­ing the tra­di­tion on for him­self. And then he took me through the process.  I love the how beau­ti­ful the browned bread looks & it has the per­fect bal­ance of sweet­ness in a bread.  As it sweeter than your aver­age bread. It reminds me a lot of chal­lah bread, but Easter Bread is not as rich in but­tery taste and is sweeter.

This bread is won­der­ful tra­di­tion to add to any Easter table.

The cir­cle of the bread sym­bol­izes the cir­cle of unend­ing life and the red egg sym­bol­izes the blood of the Cru­ci­fix­ion of Christ and His Res­ur­rec­tion.  I love how some­thing as sim­ple as bread can con­vey so much mean­ing.  And the break­ing of bread over a meal with friends, fam­ily & even strangers is a beau­ti­ful way to bond & invite peo­ple to share in the jour­ney of life together.

What You Need:

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour, Divided
1/4 Cup Gran­u­lated White Sugar
1 Tea­spoon of Salt
1 Pack­age Active Dry Yeast (.25 ounce)
2/3 Cup Whole or 2% Milk
2 Table­spoons Unsalted But­ter
2 Eggs
6 Table­spoons of But­ter (melted, brush 1/2 on before bak­ing other 1/2 after bak­ing)
1 Table­spoon of Veg­etable (or Olive) Oil
1 Red Egg (or as close to red as you can get!)

How To Put It Together:

In a large bowl, com­bine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Warm milk to a low tem­per­a­ture (either on stove top or in microwave. Soft­ened but­ter to room temperature.

Add your but­ter & milk to the flour mix­ture. Make sure the ingre­di­ents are fully incorporated.

Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour & then mix this together until it is one mix­ture. Add the remain­ing flour, do this slowly, about 1/2 cup. Make sure to fully incor­po­rate EACH 1/2 cup as you add, you want this to be a cohe­sive dough mix.

Once you have your dough all together. Place your dough on a lightly floured sur­face. Knead until smooth and elas­tic. You want it to still be soft but not sticky to touch, it takes about 8–10 min­utes to knead.

Once you have it kneaded then put it in a lightly oiled large bowl & turn the dough around in the bowl so it is coated with the oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let your dough rise in a warm place. You want to let it rise until the dough has dou­bled in vol­ume. Dou­bling takes about 1 hour (although depend­ing on humid­ity & how warm the space your bak­ing in is it may vary slightly).

Once your dough has risen you will punch down your dough. Then place it onto a lightly floured sur­face (the kitchen counter or table works just fine for all the kneading).

Divide the dough into two equal parts, round in shape. Cover the dough with a towel & let it rest on the lightly floured sur­face for about 10 min­utes. After the dough has rested you will roll each round part into a long roll about 24–32 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.

Use your two long pieces of dough to inter­weave them together form­ing a loosely braided ring (think of braid­ing hair or rib­bon, same process here). Seal the ends of the ring together, then make (with your fin­gers) a small hole to slide your egg in. Best place to set your egg in is any­where in between where the two braided pieces of dough meet.

Place your braided round loaf on a but­tered bak­ing sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place it in a warm place and let it rise. You will want it to be dou­bled in size, this takes about 45–50 minutes.

After the ringed loaf has risen brush it with 3 table­spoons melted butter.

Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake in pre­heated oven for 45 to 55 min­utes, until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool.

While it is cool­ing brush your browned Easter bread with the other 3 table­spoons of melted butter.

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Serve with your meals all day long! I love this with din­ner & then the next morn­ing on Easter Mon­day with a cup of cof­fee or tea. Of course you could adapt this bread with­out the egg & serve it year round or for other hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions of yours too if you like. Per­haps even driz­zling some white icing over it when serv­ing it.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alicia April 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Very cool tradition. Thanks for sharing. Happy Easter!

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2 Martha (MM) April 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

This is gorgeous! Have a Happy Easter :-)

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3 faemom May 7, 2011 at 3:41 am

This looks amazing. And it’s such a cool tradition. Now if only I could figure out a solution to my yeast problem.

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