This recipe for Easter Bread has directions for either a soft-cooked or hard-cooked egg to be nestled in the sweet braided bread. It's an Easter tradition.
The making of Easter Bread
You might wonder, how does a recipe get "developed". Having never made Easter Bread, it was interesting when my at that time client, Colavita USA, asked me to come up with a recipe for one. I've never had it before or really knew of it.
The beauty of the internet.
I did a Google search for Easter Bread and got a number of different responses. Braided bread with uncooked dyed eggs inserted into the braid. Braided bread with already cooked dyed eggs inserted into the braid. Takeoffs of Pantene. Doughs from savoy to very sweet. Brioche.
OK...I know the client wants a braided bread, with the colored egg. So I go for a sweet dough and taking the best ideas from a number of recipes, I make my dough. Using extra virgin olive oil, of course.
and then make these cute braided breads, I decide to do smaller breads rather than one large one.
And into each, I place an uncooked colored egg.
I'm thinking back to my Backyard Chicken Deviled Chicken Eggs where I baked the eggs rather than boil them. The eggs baked up perfectly, with the yolks remaining dead center which made the deviled eggs so much easier to refill.
So I'm figuring the same thing will happen when baked in the bread.
Perfectly cooked hard-cooked eggs. Right?
Wrong! When I break open the egg, I find it is soft cooked.
I have an idea; how about I make these breads just a little smaller, so they are really more of an individual serving, and then each person would have a soft-boiled egg to dip the bread into? That would make a great brunch idea.
Now I have to remake and recheck the recipe. To make sure the egg really does come out soft I cook the bread in three different batches. The first batch is cooked with convection; my oven automatically lowers the temperature when using convection and I find things bake quicker, so after 15 minutes the bread is perfect and the eggs are soft-cooked.
I cook the second batch on regular oven temperature and find that, while the bread is cooked well, some of the eggs are just a little soft and some are well-cooked after the 20 minute cooking time.
The third batch I cook at regular oven temperature for only 15 minutes; the bread is fine, and the eggs are soft-cooked.
So now I can add that information to the recipe and you can have your eggs cooked soft, or hard-cooked.
And then I take lots and lots of pictures and try to pick out the best ones.
And finally, I sit down with all my notes and write, what I hope, is a comprehensive recipe for you to easily follow.
And that, my friends, is how a recipe is developed.
LindySez: Remember, the eggs are edible, but if you are not eating them right away, then cook them hard and remove them from the bread to store in the refrigerator.
- For the Bread
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk warmed to about 95°F
- ⅓ cup Colavita extra virgin olive oil or other mild oil
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons 1 packet yeast
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest from 1 large orange
- 4 to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour start with 3 ½ cups and add as needed to create a soft, but not wet, dough
- Additional Items
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water called an egg wash
- Dyed eggs only use as many as you plan to actually eat
- Colored sprinkles optional but pretty
- If using a stand mixer: In a large mixer bowl, combine the yeast, salt, eggs, and sugar. Add the warm milk and olive oil and mix. Add 3 ½ cups of the flour and mix with a dough hook (or by hand); adding small amounts of flour until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. ( You may not need all the flour, just add it until the dough is not wet anymore.) Knead until smooth with either the dough hook or turn out onto a floured board and knead, keeping your hands coated in flour. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
- If using a bread machine: Add the ingredients to the machine in the order listed by the manufacturer, generally, liquids, sugars, flour and finally yeast. Set to dough. Be sure to peek inside while the dough is mixing and add additional flour as needed.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece to form about a ¾ inch thick rope 12 inches long. Take two pieces and braid them together, pinching the ends. Loop into a circle and pinch the ends to close.
- Place each braid on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (you will need two cookie sheets). Cover and let rise again. ( You can make these to this point a day ahead, cover and keep in the refrigerator removing them an hour before cooking).
- Heat the oven to 350°F (325°F if convection). Place the oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
- Brush each braid with the egg wash; sprinkle with the sprinkles, if using and place a colored egg in the center of the ring. Bake for 15 minutes for a soft egg, or 20 minutes for a hard egg; switching the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time (not necessary if using convection).
- Enjoy your bread with your egg. If soft-cooked, set the egg upright in the "hole" and use a sharp knife to remove the top. If hard-cooked, peel, or cut into half.