Saturday, March 19, 2011

Festive (Italian) Easter Bread

My husband remembers these pretty, festive breads at Easter time, given to him by his Sicilian stepmom.  What child wouldn't enjoy?  

Good for the St. Joseph's Table as well.
Festive Easter Bread
recipe brought from Sicily by Lorenza G. in 1954
edited by Gourmet Girlfriend 2001

1 teaspoon (or 1 package) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar, or more if desired
1/2 cup warm milk
3 eggs, plus 3 more (colored) raw eggs for decoration
1 tablespoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
1 pinch salt

In a bowl sprinkle yeast in warm water and let it sit to proof until foamy.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add milk, 3 eggs, vanilla and zest.  Mix well.  Stir in flour and salt.  Work the mixture with hands until it comes together and is soft and sticky.

Place in a greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. When double in size, turn it out onto a floured surface.  Roll out the dough into 1/4" thickness.  
Cut out dove shapes (or basket shapes, etc.) and place a 'whole uncooked egg in the shell' (may be dyed like an Easter egg) onto the dove.  Place a strip of dough (or braid) over the egg to ensure the egg will stay in place (again, dough strip may be done in a decorative fashion).  Optionally have seen three long strips braided around 3-5 raw eggs and formed into a wreath, or a straight braid with 3 raw decorated eggs placed in a 'loaf' fashion.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven.
Optional:  When cool, brush on a smooth, thin icing (1 pound of powder sugar and 1/4 cup of milk) and shake on candy sprinkles.

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