Prep time: 3.5 hours (20 min active)
Cook time: 15-20 min
Makes: 2 bread wreaths
I have a confession to make. And I am only making it because I know some of you get intimidated by the idea of a bread recipe. So here’s my confession: I utterly failed at baking today. And despite this, it all worked out. Cory and I are moving, so of course I packed up all of my baking tools having completely forgotten my plans to write an Easter post. There was not a measuring spoon or cup to be had. Try measuring yeast using a normal spoon…nightmare! They say baking is a science. I am proud to say that I turned that phrase on its head this weekend. So don’t be intimidated! Try this recipe, fail a little, and you will succeed anyways. You don’t have to make any confessions at your Easter brunch!
This recipe is from the family vault. We are recipe sharing people so its not really a vault. But you get me. Its a classic. Except that until recently, I didn’t even know it was an Easter recipe. My mom was so good to us we got to eat it four months early – it was actually a Christmas recipe in my family! We would braid the dough into the shape of a baby, and placing an egg at the top for a head. Today I am happy to eat this recipe at Christmas, Easter, Ground hog day, you name it. I love the starchy texture and sweet flavor. Its not too sweet you can eat lots of it (dangerous), but it also nips your dessert craving in the bud.
Oh and by the way – there is no need to color your eggs- I did it solely for fun and aesthetics. The background on the eggs is that Italians used to give up eggs during lent, so Easter brunch was the first opportunity to eat them in months. And with that I can off the box for sharing a random fact of the day.
1pkg yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
¼ c water
1 tsp sugar
2.5 cups milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp salt
1 egg (plus 3 eggs for decoration)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder, if you don’t like cardamom, substitute cinnamon
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 T milk
1 T maple syrup
1. Mix in yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let sit for 7-10 minutes.
2. Place 2.5 cups milk and 1 stick butter in a small pot and bring to a near boil on medium heat. Do not let the milk mixture actually come to a boil. Remove it just before it does – this is called scalding the milk. The butter should be completely melted. Remove from heat and add 1 C sugar and 1 tsp. salt to the mixture.
3. After about 7 minutes after you have completed Step 1, measure 3 Cups flour and sift into yeast mixture. It will look lumpy like a pie crust does before you add the liquid.
4. When milk/butter solution has lightly cooled add to yeast and flour mixture. The mixture will still be hot so be careful. Stir until well mixed, add one egg and cinnamon and/or cardamom. The mixture will look like pancake mix at this point. If so, you’re on the right track. If not, keep your head up and keep mixing.
5. Mix an additional 4-6 cups flour into dough to form a ball that does not stick to hands. Do not add too much flour, it should be smooth just beyond the point of stickiness. Knead until smooth, a good 5-10 minutes. I LOVE kneading. It is hard work but its so fun to feel how you are impacting the texture of the bread. There is nothing better than the soft texture of a dough that has been kneaded.
6. Place dough in greased bowl and cover, and store in warm place. I turned my oven on preheat for about 2 minutes, then turned it right off. You are seeking a warm place, not a hot please – if its too hot the temperature will kill the yeast. Keep the oven light on to keep the oven a bit warm. Let rise about 1-1 1/2 hours, then punch down dough and let rise again. Dough can be punched down several times if you get too busy.
7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into two pieces as this makes two bread wreaths. Set one piece aside and divide the remaining piece into 2. Then roll out into long pieces. Loosely twist them together and arrange in a circle. Add eggs in three places by pulling apart the twist enough to nestle the egg in there.
8. Brush tops with milk, dust with sprinkles. Bake on 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until hollow sound when tapped.
9. To make frosting, mixing about 1 1/2 C powdered sugar with 1 T of milk and a dash of maple syrup. Add more milk to get the desired consistency. Quick tip for a nice presentation – place four pieces of wax or parchment paper down on the cake plate so that you bread is partially sitting on them. Drip the frosting, and when done, slide the paper out. The cake plate will come out clean and you will have a beautiful presentation!
Big shout-out to my mom who sent her recipe to me to post for you all. She is a fabulous cook herself and undoubtedly the biggest Lawyer in the Kitchen fan.
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