italian easter bread
I love making these Italian Easter breads every year. They are the ideal morning treat in the days before Easter. The dough consistency is so fluffy and light. I usually add nutmeg to it which works so well paired with the boiled eggs. It is definitely a success at our house and my son cannot wait for me to take them out the oven.
This year I used fresh eggs that I collected same day from Chloe and Sage. I love this farm to table concept and I love having hens around. It is so nice to go in the back yard and get fresh eggs to use in bakings.
This dough is pretty easy to make and rises so well every time. As with every dough, the proofing is essential. I like to take my time when I make this dough and I let it proof for about three hours total. My favorite method of proofing is to place the kneaded dough in a bowl, cover it sealed with plastic wrap and then place it in a proofing bag.
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
3 cups, plus, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon white wine
1 egg white
for the topping:
1 egg white, beaten
4 whole eggs (raw, not boiled, as the eggs will boil while the bread bakes)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
In a saucepan combine the milk, sugar, butter and salt and heat on medium until the butter is melted (do not boil). Let the mixture cool down for 5 minutes.
Combine 1 1/2 cup of flour with the yeast and nutmeg. Pour the milk mixture on top, add the white wine and one egg white and with the help of a hand mixer beat on high for 5 minutes. Add another cup of flour and with your hands start incorporating the flour into the dough. Keep dusting your hands with the remaining flour while you knead the dough. The final dough has to be soft but well-formed (see pictures bellow). Knead the dough for 10 minutes, cover with plastic wrap, place in a proof bag and let it rise in a warm spot for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 4 equal parts, then each part into 3 equal parts. Roll each of the three parts in the shape of a straw, braid into three and form into a circle (check pictures bellow; you will end up with 4 Italian breads total). Place the breads on the sheet pan (leave about 2 inches between them, as they will rise during baking), brush with the egg white, arrange one whole egg in each, sprinkle with granulated sugar, wrap in plastic wrap and proof for another hour. Keep in a warm spot.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the Italian breads for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool down for 10 minutes and then dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.