Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bread

A break in the alphabet challenge to bring you the yummy goodness that is Easter bread.  What makes Easter bread so yummy you say?  Is it the super secret family recipe handed down through the generations?  Or that special ingredient that makes it rise above the competition? (Hahaha, that's bread humor right there, "rise" above...get it?...yeah...)

No, what makes it so yummy is the colors!  Honestly, how could you not smile when you're eating a rainbow?  Although, when people ask how I make it, I do tell them the secret ingredient is Easter eggs.  Some people get it...quite a few don't. (Easter eggs are colored, the bread is colored...)
I have 2 variations for Easter bread, the first is a simple loaf, like above, the second is a four strand braid.  Both variations start out the same:

A box of food coloring and 1 box of bread mix PER color

I use a bread machine to do the mixing, if you don't use one that's fine.  Put the bread mix, yeast, and water (see back of box) in the machine.  Place 10-15 drops (for light colors) or 30-40 drops of food color (for more vibrant colors) where the water pooled. If you're not using a bread machine, mix the coloring into the water before you add the water to the dry ingredients.

 Set the machine to mix and go do something for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes place the dough in a flour dusted bowl and cover it with a towel to let it finish rising.  OR since this is a very time consuming process and like me you sometimes make the dough one day and assemble it all the next day, put a lid on the bowl and stick it in the fridge overnight.    The next day take it out and let it sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes so it can warm up and rise a bit.

At this point all your dough has been made and given a chance to rise.  How many colors should you have?  Well this year I did 4, some years I do 5 or 6.  It depends on how insane I am at the time.
Divide your dough (I get 6 balls of each color if I'm making a loaf, 8 balls if I'm doing a braid) using a bit of flour to make the stickiness manageable.

  Take one of each color.  For the loaf version, you'll take a rolling pin and roll each ball into a rectangle shape.

   Layer the rectangles on top of each other.  

Starting at the short end, carefully roll up the layers to form the loaf.  Gently tuck the ends under and place in a lightly greased bread pan.  Cover with a towel and let raise (it will roughly double in size).  Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes (or follow the directions on the box if using a different mix)

For the braid version you're going to take your dough and roll them out like reminds me of playing with play dough, only it smells yummier : )  How long do you make it?  Depends how much dough you have. Just have fun and do what feels right =P

 Take the ends at top and pinch them all together.  If you don't know how to do a 4 braid, here's a quick walk through.  Hopefully the pics will be enough : )  

 Take the blue and place it under the pink...

and then over the green...

and then under the purple.

Then we take the pink and  make it go under the green...

over the purple...

and under the pink. 
So the far left strand will always go under, over, under.

Continue braiding and then tuck the ends under.

Place on cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let raise, then bake the same as above.  These here are different sizes because I used different amounts of dough.

If you're like me and like to give things away during holidays, I take an extra step:

I take my braided bread, cut it in half, turn under the ends and place them in these mini bread pans.  Cover with towel, let rise, etc.

I wind up getting 16 mini loaves from 4 boxes of bread mix.  The bigger ones were given more time to rise, the smaller loaves came at the end when I just wanted to get the whole thing over with and didn't care that they hadn't fully risen before baking.  Don't be lazy like me, let your bread rise =P

So that's Easter bread.  Wow your friends and amaze your kids one of these Easters.  Have fun and make it your own!

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