This Italian Easter egg bread is not only tasty but makes for a really pretty centerpiece on your dinner table. It’s formed into a braided loaf or wreath and then decorated with coloured eggs.
2 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 c. flour
1 tsp. water
Instructions: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Melt the butter, add the milk and heat until it’s just barely warm. Pour this into the bowl containing the yeast. Mix in the sugar, eggs, and salt.
Stir in the flour a cup at a time until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle on more flour a bit at a time if the dough is too sticky. Knead well until it’s smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, and place in a warm area for about an hour until it doubles in size.
Punch down the dough. Split the dough into 3 equal sections and roll each one of them into a snake about 1 1/2 feet long. Put the three strands next to each other and braid them. It’s easiest to start the braiding in the middle and work out to each end to avoid any rips in the dough. Form the braid into a wreath shape and place on a buttered cookie sheet.
Six of the eggs are to be used as the wreath decorations. Some people colour the raw eggs and then place them, still raw, into the wreath allowing them to cook as the bread bakes. I prefer to soft boil them (and dye them) first because I find it gives better results.
When my mom used to make this, she would make “wells” in the dough and bake it without any eggs in it at all, adding them after the bread was baked but this was taking a chance because if the bread doesn’t rise or bake up just right, you may lose those wells or they may not be the right size to hold the eggs. Sink the dyed eggs into the dough evenly around the wreath. Cover the bread with a tea towel and let it rise again until it doubles in size once more.
Beat one egg with 1 tsp. water to make a wash and brush that over the bread. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes until golden brown.