Easter Bread

Happy EasterEvery year around this time I carefully unfold the yellowing pages of my old recipe book – a collection I started when my grandmother shared her much loved holiday cookie recipes with me.  Those weekends of baking will remain in my memory long after the pages of my book have disintegrated.   It’s not holiday cookies I’m after this time so I get to avoid that mushy path called memory lane to focus on the task of making Easter Bread.

For Easter Bread each batch makes 6 baskets, you’ll want to color enough Easter eggs equal to the number of baskets you want to bake.

Ingredients

  • 1pk dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (scald then cool)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I prefer buttery flavored)
  • 3.5 – 3 .75 cup flour

Instructions

  1. Using a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water
  2. Scald milk then cool by placing hot pot in sink of cold water
  3. Add the cooled milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening and 2 cups of flower to the yeast, mix til smooth.
  4. Add enough of the remaining flower to make the dough easy to handle with hands.
  5. Knead dough for 5 min on lightly floured surface, working it into a smooth ball as you finish kneading.
  6. Place dough in a big, well oiled bowl, turning so all sides are greased and cover with saran wrap.  Make sure the bowl is big enough that the dough has room to rise.
  7. Let rise in warm place until double (about 2 hours) or place in refrigerator to rise slowly overnight.
  8. Punch dough down flat and remove from bowl.

You can do this all in the stand mixer with a dough hook just don’t overwork the dough

To make Easter Bread Baskets

  1. Divide dough into 6 section and shape one basket at a time
    1. Divide a section into 4 pieces
    2. Roll 3 of the pieces into a 7″(approx) rope
    3. Pinch the ends together and braid
    4. Divide the 4th piece in half
      1. Flatten 1 piece and place on greased cookie sheet
      2. Placed colored egg on top
      3. Roll remaining piece into your basket handle and place over top of the egg
    5. Wrap braid around the egg, pinching the ends together securely
  2. Cover the baskets with a clean towel and let them rise in a warm place (about 2 hours)
  3. Brush with beaten egg, dust with sprinkles and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes

Now get creative, shape the dough into large Easter bread loaves or make one giant basket to hold all your eggs, just make sure to check as it bakes to be sure it cooks through.

Alternatives to Easter Bread:

  1. Dinner Rolls:  shape as desired (i.e. biscuits, crescents, clover leafs, monkey bread) bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Cinnamon Rolls:
    1. After kneading the dough (step 5 above) cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes
    2. Roll dough onto a 10 x 12 rectangle on a lightly floured surfaced and spread with soft butter
    3. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 tsp cinnamon, spread on dough.  Add nuts or raisins as desired
    4. Beginning with the longest side roll up tightly, tuck ends and cut into 12 pieces
    5. Place rolls, spiral side up, in a greased 9″ cake pan or greased muffin tin
    6. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight
    7. When ready to bake preheat over to 375 degrees while taking the rolls out of the refrigerator to let stand for 10 minutes.
    8. Remove saran wrap and bake until golden (about 25 – 30 minutes)
    9. Remove from pan immediately and let them cool slightly (from hot to warm)
    10. Drizzle with icing and serve
      1. To make icing combine 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp milk and one drop of vanilla.  Beat until smooth.

Enjoy, get the kids involved, pass the recipe on to the next generation.  

Happy Easter

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