This is my first month joining up with the What’s Baking? group. Each month, the host picks a theme and the participants blog a dish relating to it. This month’s theme was pretty simple: Sprinkles. I started searching through my saved recipes for a fun sprinkle-covered something to try. Despite a ton of choices, I kept coming back to this family favorite.
I was introduced to Easter Bread when I started dating Mark. His Grandmother used to make it every year for the family’s Easter Saturday gathering. It’s a sweet, braided bread that is covered in sprinkles. When she passed away, I got a copy of her recipe so I could continue making it.
It was easier said than done, though. Her recipe is finicky and gives hit-or-miss results. When it turns out, you get this beautiful loaf of sweet bread; When it doesn’t, you get a nice mess. After one-too-many failed attempts to duplicate her bread, I started browsing the internet for another recipe.
This recipe is close to hers, though there are a few key differences. The results taste the same, though, and I’ve yet to have a failed batch. Most importantly, it has gotten Mark’s seal of approval – which is good, because this has become my favorite Easter tradition. And of course, it’s covered in sprinkles.
You can check out the roundup of all the sprinkles-inspired goodies later this month on Beantown Baker.
Italian Easter Bread
(from The Italian Dish)
Makes 2 braided loaves
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/4 c. scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
Pinch of salt
1/3 c. butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 c. flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add in about half the flour and beat until smooth using a dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms. Don’t worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with a dough hook or turn the dough out on floured board and knead. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Punch dough down, divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope. Using three dough ropes, braid together and pinch ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining three dough ropes.
Transfer the braids to a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
Brush each loaf with the beaten egg wash. Decorate with sprinkles.
Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.