For some of us Easter is still a religious celebration full of reflection, meditation and prayer because of the story of one, young Man who lived over 2000 years ago. The days and weeks leading up to Easter Sunday have meaning and significance and the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday cannot be held on just “any of the four days of the holiday” as I heard one prominent Australian cook announce as the being the best part of Easter.
For some of us the food also has significance.
This year I wanted to prepare an Italian Easter Bread. A beautiful bread flavoured with anise and decorated with colourful eggs signifying life and rebirth. But I realised all the eggs I tried to buy were brown. I think marketing has lead us to believe that brown eggs are better.
Which leads me to ask, what has happened to all the white chooks?
Anyway, I have strayed from the topic – brown eggs. With brown eggs I couldn’t achieve the pretty pinks, yellows and greens I was aiming for. So with brown eggs in hand I switch my idea to a gorgeous Greek style bread with red eggs but the bread is flavoured as a traditional Italian bread with anise. Hmmm, is this bread is a bit confused?
Maybe not. The further one delves into the topic of Easter bread the more is revealed that many cultures have the tradition of a sweet Easter bread decorated with colour or not eggs.
Isn’t it interesting that many cultures have their own version of many well known dishes.
I found this style of Easter bread in Italian, Greek, Philippino and Portugese cusine.
I wonder how many other cultures make a similar bread?
Tell me, what others do you know of.
This bread was based on this Easter Bread by the Italian Dish but also various other sources.
3 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups milk. warmed
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 – 2 teaspoons ground anise seeds (according to taste)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallised orange peel, preferrably home made otherwise good quality
4 1/2 cups flour
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
3 eggs, dyed in food colour and vinegar but not boiled
Place 4 cups flour, salt, anise seeds, orange peel and sugar into bowl of stand mixer. Attach the dough hook. Add in the milk and eggs and start the mixer. When the dough comes together add the butter, one tablespoon at a time until well incorporated. If the dough is very sticky add more of the additional flour.. Knead until smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about one hour.
Punch the dough down and divide into three equal portions. Roll out each into a long (about 50 or 6cms) rope.
Plait and carefully twist into a ring and place on a tray lined with silicone baking paper.
I wrapped a small ramekin with silicon baking paper and placed it in the middle of the ring to keep the ring from closing in. Allow to rise at room temperature until double again about an hour. In the meantime heat the oven to 180C.
When risen arrange the eggs on the dough and push in slightly.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pearlised sugar.
Bake for about 30 minutes until well browned and cooked through. Cook on a rack.
You can eat the eggs as they will be cooked along with the dough. Naturally don’t leave them sitting out with in the dough for hours and then expect them to still be good. You can remove the eggs and refrigerate then place them back in for serving.
I had fun making this delicous bread and my family loved it for breakfast the next day.
From my family to yours – we hope you had a blessed and peaceful Easter!