I have been wanting to try and make Easter Bread Nests ever since seeing the yummy recipe Charlotte shared a couple years ago. Once again I wasn't able to find the time to make them for Easter morning, but since one of the symbols for the second week of Easter using The Garden of the Good Shepherd : A Sticker Calendar to Count the 50 days of Easter is "bread" I figured this week's Good Shepherd's Garden Party would be the perfect opportunity!
Instead of using the recipe in the archives (which we do love and bake each year on Santa Lucia Day), my oldest daughter and I ended up making the Italian Easter Bread from The Italian Dish. The bread ended up being much easier to make than I expected and turned out beautifully! It bakes up incredibly soft and sweet, and reminded my children of the Portuguese sweet rolls they enjoy at our local St. Anthony's Festa each year. We will be making these again, for sure!
Italian Easter Bread
- 1 package (2 1/4 ) teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour (I actually ended up using 5 cups)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- 6 dyed, uncooked, Easter eggs (will cook in the oven)
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the yeast, milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. With the mixer set to a low speed and switching to the dough hook attachment (or by hand), continue adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1-inch by 14-inch rope.
Taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid," then join the ends to loop into a circle, pinching the tips together.
Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 more hour. (We accidentally skipped this second rise, but they still turned out okay... The eggs just didn't stick out as well.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush each dough "nest" with the beaten egg wash.
In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg. Place one egg in the center of each nest, pressing down lightly to secure.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Note: Be sure to either refrigerate or discard the eggs, if not eaten within a couple hours.