Easter in Italy is perhaps a bigger holiday than in many other countries. In fact, most of the ancient world today celebrates the holiday in a different way than others. This bread was first created more than 1,500 years ago by Italian bakers. No dyed eggs were used then, but eventually, they became a standard component everywhere Easter breads are made. Simply a wonderful bread.
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 to 3-1/2 Cups unbleached flour
- 2/3 Cup milk
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 Cup mixed candied fruit
- 1/3 Cup chopped blanched almonds.
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
- 2 Tablespoons melted shortening
- 5 uncooked eggs colored with Easter egg dye*
- 1 Cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
- colored sprinkles
- In a large mixing bowl, blend the sugar, salt, and yeast well with 1 cup of the flour.
- In a saucepan, combine milk and butter, heating slowly over a low flame until liquid is warm and butter is melted. Do not boil.
- Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and beat 125 strokes with a wooden spoon. Add eggs and 1/2 Cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. beat vigorously for 2 minutes This may be done with a mixer, but hand mixing is better.
- Then stir in enough flour to make a ball of dough that draws away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, working in additional flour to overcome stickiness.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, combine the fruit,nuts, and anise seed. Punch down the dough and return it to a lightly floured board.
- Knead in the fruit mixture, keeping the syrupy pieces dusted with flour until they are worked into the dough.
- Divide the dough in half. Carefully roll each piece into a 24 inch rope - the fruit and nuts will make this slightly difficult. Loosely twist the two ropes together, and form a ring on a greased baking sheet.
- Pinch the ends together well. Brush the dough with melted shortening. Push aside the twist to make a place for each egg.
- Push eggs down carefully as far as possible, taking care not to break the eggs.
- Cover the bread with wax paper and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a twist (a thick area) comes out clean.
- Place on a wire rack to cool. Once the bread is cool, drizzle the icing on top between the eggs, and decorate with colored sprinkles.
- Makes 1 loaf.
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