Greek Easter bread is braided and contains hard boiled eggs, dyed red for fertility, symbolizing the Resurrection of Christ.
A funny thing happened on the way to the family Easter dinner...
I started making this bread Saturday morning to take to my family's Easter celebration that afternoon. I was running late so I decided to let it rise in the car and bake it once I got to my sister's house. I had to hold onto the baking pan to keep the loaf from sliding off. It slid a couple of times and I was able to catch it. I kept saying "will you just cooperate?". It decided to have the last word. It slid completely off the seat. I couldn't catch in time. It stayed on the parchment and was still covered, but it was ruined.
I was soooo mad that I balled the dough up and threw it down on the baking pan. I decided I didn't care. We just wouldn't have any bread for dinner. I kept driving down the road mad at the world. Then, I started laughing my head off at myself. You can’t get mad at bread. It was then that I realized I could just reshape it and let is rise again. So that's what I did.
The moral of the story is when you think all is lost, it usually isn't. You just need to laugh and try again!
Greek Easter Twist
Makes: 2 Loaves
From Breads from Betsy's Kitchen by Betsy Oppenneer.
- 2 scant tablespoons or 2 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees)
- 1 cup soft butter
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon crushed anise seed
- 1 tablespoon orange peel
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 to 7 cups unbleached flour
- 8 to 12 hard-boiled eggs, dyed bright red
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse sugar or sesame seeds
1) Hard boil 8 to 12 eggs. I used about 8 eggs but you can use more if you like.
2) Dye the eggs red. I've never dyed Easter eggs red before. Very interesting and beautiful!
Stir the yeast into warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk, butter, eggs, honey, anise seed, orange peel, salt, and 3 cups flour and beat vigorously for two minutes.
Gradually add in the flour, 1/4 cup a a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding flour a little at a time, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Put dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide in four pieces.
Shape each fourth into a 30-inch strand.
Twist strands together and pinch the ends together.
Spread the dough and insert four to six eggs evenly spaced between the strands. Place onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining two strands.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
About 10 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Just before baking, brush each loaf lightly with the glaze and sprinkle with the coarse sugar or seeds.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the loaf reaches 190 degrees. Immediately remove the bread from baking sheets and cool on a wire rack.
This is the loaf I took to my sister's house. It turned out great even though I had to reshape it.
This is the second loaf that I made a couple of days later. I put the dough in the refrigerator and took it out 2 days later and let it rise at room temperature before shaping. It did just fine. It amazes me how forgiving a lot of breads are. We should be more like that!