Wednesday 20 April 2011

Easter Bread

Even though I'm THRILLED to be traveling in Madagascar right now, it kinda blows to miss out on everything Easter this year. I'm such a kid when it comes to Easter or Christmas. I love the treats, the decorating, and the cooking that go along with these holidays.

This is a picture of my breakfast table from last year's Easter Sunday, with the traditional German braided Easter Bread stealing the scene. This bread was baked by my Mama every Easter as long as I can remember, and I am continuing the tradition in my house. It's a sweetish white bread, similar to brioche. We always put our coloured, hard-boiled eggs in the middle like you can see. I am sharing the recipe below. Make it the night before your big breakfast if you do not want to get up early to bake. I have not tried letting it rise in the fridge over night, but I am sure that would be possible, too. If you love jam or Nutella, this bread will become your friend real quick.


Must Have:

600-650g plain flour
7g fast action dry yeast
40g unrefined granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
400 ml milk, plus extra for brushing
30g melted butter, cooled
vegetable oil for covering

Must Do:

In a big mixing bowl or the bowl of your freestanding mixer, combine 550g of the flour with yeast, sugar and salt. Make a little crater in the middle.

Heat milk on the stove or in the microwave till just lukewarm (if you stick a finger into the milk, it should feel the same as your body temperature). Combine milk and melted butter.

Add liquids to the dry mixture gradually, and knead until well combined and dough feels soft and elastic. You can do this using the kneading hook of your mixer, if applicable.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface that is dusted with 50g flour. Knead and incorporate the flour, adding up to another 50g, until the dough no longer sticks. Then knead for 10 minutes, stretching the dough, until it becomes shiny and smooth. If using a mixer, add as much flour as needed to bring the dough together and knead on low speed until you reach the shiny and smooth stage.

Shape the dough into a ball (take it out of the mixer bowl to do this, if using mixer). Cover dough ball lightly in sunflower, rapeseed or similar light vegetable oil. Place in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about an hour).

Knock the dough together and knead once more, a few strokes only. Divide the dough into thirds.

Shape each third into a string, each about 50cm long. Braid these strings and form a circle, tucking the ends of the braid under each other. Place on baking sheet that has been greased or lined with silicone, cover and let rise again, for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Brush the bread with a little milk and bake for about 50 minutes or until it reaches a golden brown colour. It will be done when you tap its bottom and it makes a hollow sound.

P.S.: You could sprinkle some sliced almonds over the top of the bread before baking, if you fancy.

© Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated)

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