Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Italian Easter Bread

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon  almond extract 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,  more if needed

    In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, except the flour.
                        Stir in flour, one cup at a time to form a wet and  noticeable sticky dough.

    Turn dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 7 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from remaining sticking on the surface of the area.  You will  form a smooth and elastic dough feeling dough.
     Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Lightly oil  surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Place in the oven and turn the light in the oven on. Let the dough rise until doubled in size,  8-12 hours.
                      This is a  slow rising dough so I would make it and let it rise overnight. 
    In the morning the dough will be doubled,  punch dough down, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface again.  
    Divide in four pieces, and shape into four small oval loaves or each piece can be cut into three strips and braided in order to make  traditional Easter bread. You can also add boiled colored Easter eggs to these. Add them to the braid before baking.

    Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover very loosely with  saran wrap, and let rise for 2 hours more.
            Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes  until golden brown, once baked cool on wire racks.

     There is a saying in Italian: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con qui voi. Which means: Christmas with your family, but Easter with whoever you want!

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