Every year just before Easter, Nana and I made her special Easter bread. Actually, she did most of the work, but I did help! I would braid the bread, or twist it into a *wreath add the raw egg and glaze the cooked bread.
She would make this bread a few days before Easter. I don’t know what the significance of it was or where it originated from; let’s just say it was tradition.To say that it was a labor of love is an understatement.
Let’s get to the recipe.
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, all of the sugar, salt, and yeast and mix well.
Pour the milk and add the butter in a small saucepan and heat it until the milk is warm and the butter is melted.
Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly.
Add the two beaten eggs and another 1/2 cup flour to the flour mixture and beat well.
Add the remaining flour – 1/2 cup at a time.
Keep stirring until all the flour is mixed well.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough mixture in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size (usually it takes an hour).
Once the dough has doubled in size; punch it down in the middle to deflate it.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough into three equal sized rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.
On a non-stick baking sheet, braid the dough.
Place a raw egg in the center of each braided section (don’t worry; the eggs will cook with the bread. You can also pre-color the eggs).
Seal the end of the braid together.
With a pastry brush, brush the dough with the egg wash and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp cloth to let it rest.
Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325º.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
Once out of the oven, let cool.
Make a glaze by combining 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of milk. Brush over the cooked bread and then sprinkle with nonpareils.
*You can also make the braid into a wreath, or mini wreaths.
** You can also add raisins or dried fruit to the dough.