Thursday, February 24, 2011
Braided Easter Bread
Spring is in the air. And let me be the first to give a big HOORAY! I don't know about you, but I am so sick of looking at barren trees. While we're waiting for those first blossoms to appear... think planning for Easter. This braided bread is a classic. It's easy to create and has a simple attractive appeal.
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 to 2 & 1/2 cups flour
3/4 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 whole uncooked eggs, plain or colored
1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add remaining water and 1 cup flour. Using an electric mixer, mix in yeast until well blended and smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm place to rise, 1 to 2 hours. This mixture should double in bulk.
3. In an electric mixer, cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light. Add lemon juice and rind and salt. Add egg.
4. Add raised yeast mixture and mix well.
5. With a wooden spoon, stir in about 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups of flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead to form a soft non-sticky dough. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
6. Punch down the dough with your fist. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long cylinder about 1 & 1/2 inches thick.
7. Loosely twist two pieces of dough together to form a loose braid. Form the braid into a ring shape and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place uncooked eggs into spaces in braid. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise until doubled in a warm spot, about 40 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and towel.
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
10. Remove from the oven. Cool bread in a pan on wire rack. Serve warm or cold. When cool, if desired, frost top of loaf with confectioners' frosting.