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.
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
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.
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.