This beautiful Easter bread is something a little different to bake for the long weekend.
Easter bread is very traditional in Italy and and Greece. It is slightly sweeter than normal bread – a little like brioche. And it makes wonderful toast at breakfast time, with some butter and jam on top. There are many variations on this recipe. For instance, the bread can be dusted with sprinkles or icing sugar, for sweeter versions, or sesame seeds for more a more savoury take. The colourful eggs, which you don’t eat, are baked into the dough as decoration. We’ve made ours into a large, centrepiece wreath decorated with several eggs, but if you prefer you can make four smaller, bun size rings with a single egg places in the middle of each. Either way, it makes a great addition to an Easter breakfast spread.
- For this Easter recipe you will need:
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 50g butter
- 2 tsp easy bake or fast action yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 150ml milk
- 75ml water
- 6 eggs: 1 beaten; 4 for boiling to decorate, plus 1 to glaze
- Grated zest of 2 oranges
- Good pinch of ground cinnamon
- Red and blue gel or paste food colouring
Place the flour in a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub in until it forms fine crumbs. Stir in the yeast, sugar and salt.
Warm the milk until it is just hot, then add the water – the mixture should be just warm to the touch. Add to the flour with the beaten egg, orange zest and cinnamon and mix well to make a soft dough. Add a little more water or milk if necessary.
Knead in an electric mixer for 5 mins or turn out onto a lightly floured work top and knead for 10 mins until smooth and elastic.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a long sausage about 45cm long. Join together at one end, then plait and join the ends together to form a circle. Place on a baking tray and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the 4 eggs for the decoration. Add food colouring to two pans of boiling water, divide the eggs between the pans and boil for 10 mins. Remove and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C Fan/Gas Mark 5.
When the dough has doubled in size, make an egg wash for the glaze by beaten the last egg in a small bowl with a tablespoon of water. Brush the dough with the beaten egg wash. Push the boiled eggs onto the plait, pressing them down into the dough. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown, risen and it sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Top tip for making Easter bread
This bread is best eaten the day it is made, but can be toasted the next day.