Happy Easter! This year, my mom and I decided to tackle braided Easter bread again. We tried this for the first time last year, but it didn’t rise properly and it was an egg-studded hockey puck. So this year, after two failed tries at proofing the yeast, we finally achieved success! What is it about that darn yeast that trips me up every time? A hint of cardamom gives the bread a subtle spicy taste. Next year, I’d love to experiment with some citrus zest or currants. Enjoy!
Braided Easter Bread
Total Time: Prep: 55 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling
Makes: 16 servings
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 4 large eggs
- 3 to 6 hard-cooked large eggs, unpeeled
- Assorted food coloring
- Canola oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- In a large bowl, mix sugar, yeast, cardamom, salt and 2 cups flour. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120 – 130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs; beat on high 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft, sticky dough.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Roll each portion into a 24-inch rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid. Bring ends together to form a ring. Pinch ends to seal. Lightly coat dyed Easter eggs with oil; arrange on braid, tucking them carefully between ropes.
- Cover with a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes. TIP: If dough is not doubling, preheat your oven to 150 degrees and then turn off the heat. Put the covered dough in the still warm oven, this should enable it to significantly increase in size.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk remaining egg and water; gently brush over dough, being careful to avoid dyed eggs. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.