Baskets filled with jelly beans and chocolate bunnies are ready to be set out. New spring dresses are hung in the closet.
The kids are whispering and wondering about that magical bunny that will soon visit their homes. Colorful eggs are dyed in preparation for an egg hunt.
It is time to
start getting ready for the Easter festivities.
Baking an Italian Braided Easter Egg Bread is another fun tradition to uphold.
are enveloped in a deliciously sweet dough. Bright and colorful eggs
Eggs are a common Easter symbol, because they represent fertility and rebirth.
The eggs should not be cooked before adding them to the dough. Rather, they will cook in the oven as the bread bakes.
Before you start preparing the dough, dye the eggs according to the directions on the box. You can also use natural dyes, letting them sit for an hour as they soak in the colors. The longer they are allowed to sit in the dye mixture, the more vibrant they, and your Easter bread, will be.
Be sure to
check out other Italian Easter traditions here!
all purpose flour
active dry yeast
grated lemon rind
uncooked eggs dyed if desired
Sugar Glaze (Optional)
1 1/2 cups
Units: Metric US Imperial
Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan. Heat until milk is warm and butter is softened.
Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly until well blended.
Add two eggs and ½ cup flour.
Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring until well combined.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball.
Generously grease a large bowl with butter and place the dough ball in the bowl, turning to coat with butter.
Cover bowl and let the dough rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour.)
Remove dough from bowl, and divide it into 2 equal parts. Cover and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Shape dough sections into long rolls or ropes, about 36 inches long and 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Loosely twist ropes into a braided ring making 5 inch spaces for the colored eggs. Optionally, you can make smaller circles with your dough as pictured below if you don't want a giant piece of bread.
Cover, and allow the dough to rise for another hour.
Carefully insert the raw colored eggs between the dough braids.
Beat egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water to form an egg wash.
Brush dough with egg wash, being especially careful not to get any on the colored eggs or the dye will bleed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
In a small bowl add confectioners sugar, milk, and lemon juice, Stir together until smooth, adding more liquid until the mixture is thick, but still liquid enough to be poured over loaf.
Some people like to add colored sprinkles and/or a sugar glaze to the bread after baking; I've included a simple glace recipe for your convenience.
Once your bread is baked and you are ready to serve, remove the eggs and slice up with
. a sharp, serrated bread knife
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.