Italian Easter Bread
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 bread loaves
–1 1/4 cups milk or half and half
-1/3 cup unsalted butter
-2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
-Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-1/2 cup sugar
-3 to 4 cups bread flour (approximate)
-1 teaspoon water
-6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined. Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour. Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour or longer.
Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch-thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. Add on the sprinkles and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. Let cool until warm.
For a simple milk glaze, mix 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk together until smooth and add a little vanilla extract.