Italian Easter Bread
You will find this traditional Italian Easter Bread to be easy and fun to make. I have been making this for quite a few years. Following is the recipe:
2 packets of active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (95° to 110°)
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur is recommended)
1 t. sugar
1-cup hot milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 t. salt
½ cup granulated sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 to 5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur)
1-cup light or dark raisins (soak in water to plumb)
1 T. water
3 uncooked eggs (colored)
- In medium bowl or 4 cup measuring cup combine warm water, yeast, sugar and ½ cup flour. Cover with plastic and a towel. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1 cup milk until it begins to scald
- Add the milk to a mixer bowl and immediately stir in the butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and salt. Stir until butter is melted.
- After the yeast is bubbly, add to the milk mixture and mix together.
- Using dough hook, add one cup of flour at a time until dough is soft and breaks away from the bowl.
- Oil a large bowl and set aside.
- Remove dough from mixer bowl and knead in the raisins using enough flour to keep dough from sticking. Dough should not be sticky.
- Add the dough to the prepared bowl and coat all sides of dough with the oil.
- Cover with plastic and a towel. Set in warm place until dough is double in size (45 to 55 minutes).
- While dough is rising, place raisins in a bowl and fill with warm water -just to cover. (If too much water is added, you will rinse away the natural sweetness of the raisins.)
- After dough has doubled, place dough on a work surface and form into a ball.
- Divide into three equal pieces and allow to rest 15 minutes.
- Rinse the raisins and toss with a little flour.
- Evenly divide raisins among each piece of dough and work into the dough.
- Shape each piece of dough into a log shape approximately 12-14" long.
- Place each log side by side on baking sheet covered with parchment or a Silpat.
- Take each log and cross over like you are braiding. Seal each end. You can leave the bread long or form a circle.
- Place colored uncooked eggs in the folds. Cover bread and rise until double in size.
- Preheat over to 375°F. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash and top with colored sprinkles.
- Dust with colored sprinkles.
- Bake until browned (25 to 35 minutes).
- Freezes well, also.