Liven your Easter with this whimsical sweet bread that is traditionally made for Greek and Russian Orthodox Easter celebrations, but is common to many Easter baking traditions across Eastern Europe and even Italy. Making this loaf is a bit of a process, but the impressive and delicious outcome is worth every step. I would set aside a morning or afternoon on the weekend to make it.
The Easter bunny couldn’t have been happier with me…
So what’s the twist? Instead of regular sugar, I used lavender sugar for a bit of festive colour.
Easter Bread with a Twist
For blue eggs:
6 large white eggs
1-2 Tblsp blue food colouring (adjust as desired)
1 Tblsp vinegar
1/2 cup water
(You can also buy naturally blue eggs at some farmer’s markets and grocery stores!)
2/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons lavender sugar
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 large eggs, room temp
2 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) room temp butter, cut into 1″ cubes, and a Tblsp extra to melt
1 large egg for brushing
For the blue eggs:
Hard-boil the eggs by gently placing them in a medium pot, pour in water to cover by 1″, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 2mins, then remove from heat, and cover with a lid for 10mins to continue cooking. Remove the eggs from the water with a spoon and gently set on a plate lined with paper towel to dry off. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, 1 Tblsp vinegar, and 1-2 Tblsp blue food colouring. With a spoon, or strainer spoon, dip your eggs in the dye and roll them around to cover. How dark you want the eggs to dye depends on you!
Remove egg from the dye and place onto a wire rack (with paper towel underneath to catch the drips), and allow to dry.
Eggs can be made up to one week in advance.
For the dough:
I used a stand-mixer with a dough hook to make this dough. You could use a food processor, or your hands!
Heat milk in a small saucepan on medium heat until bubbles just start to form around the edges (if you have a thermometer should be 110-115C). Transfer the milk to a 2-cup measuring cup. Whisk in 1 Tblsp lavender sugar, and the yeast to combine. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5mins. **Be sure the milk isn’t too hot otherwise you will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise!!**
When it has become foamy, whisk in 2 eggs until smooth.
In the stand-mixer, with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Add the milk mixture. With the mixer running, slowly add the butter one cube at a time. Knead the dough on medium-high until the dough is soft and smooth, approx 5 mins.
Brush a medium bowl with melted butter; form the dough into a ball with your hands and place in the bowl. Brush with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.
You can make this dough one day in advance, in which case keep in the fridge after it has risen. Before you use the dough, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temp before working.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with flour. Lightly flour your hands. Punch down the dough, then place on the baking sheet. Cut into equal parts, and roll with your hands into 16″ long rope pieces. If the dough is springy and bounces back, just cover and allow to rest for 10mins.
Aline the ropes lengthwise, side by side, leaving some space between. Pinch the ends together at one end, then braid the dough. Pinch the bottom end together. (Loaf will now be about 12″ long).
Squeeze the blue eggs between the braid gaps. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for another 45mins.
Preheat the oven to 375F, and arrange the rack in the middle. Whisk one egg with 2 tsp warm water and brush over the loaf, avoiding the eggs. Bake until the bread is golden, 20-25mins. Allow bread to cool, but serve warm!
Recipe adapted from BonAppetit.com
Considering this bread is common in Eastern European Orthodox Easter celebrations, I channeled Slavic inspiration for my ensemble through fur, while still being spring-appropriate. Blue accents were all over the fall/winter 2013 runways this season, and I like to start early with my trends. So I add blue accents to my look (and bread), to step into spring in style.
Thierry Lasry sunglasses, BCBG Max Azria fur vest,
Miss Selfridge dress, Topshop boots
Balenciaga Papier Tote
Get the Look!