Every year at Easter, one of the quintessential foods that my family eats is my grandmother’s Easter Bread. It’s a wonderful braided bread that almost looks like a challah. I love this bread not only because it tastes delicious, but because it reminds me of my childhood. She used to bake this bread every year for Easter and knew the recipe by heart. I blogged about this bread last year, but since I only bake this bread once a year and it’s so special to me, I decided I’d feature it again. I know bread making can be daunting for some, including myself, but this bread is easy to make; the most time-consuming part is allowing it to rise two different times. This bread is also wonderful because it’s so versatile; you can toast it and smear some butter on top, you can eat it plain along side Easter dinner, or you can make some amazing French toast with it. Hope you give this recipe a try… it’s definitely worth it!
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1 c warm water
- 1/2 c sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 for glaze
- 5 c flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unsalted butter at room temp
- 1 c golden or regular raisins (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar, 3 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, butter, and raisins. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. (The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.)
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Punch down the dough. To make a 3-strand braid, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Using your palms, and starting in the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope as long as the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Lay the 3 pieces out and begin braiding them. Pinch the ends together at the top and at the bottom, and tuck the strands under at the ends.
- Place the braided loaf on the prepared pan, cover with a dry kitchen towel, and let rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until the loaf doubles in size, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat to 350°F
- Brush the braid gently with the beaten egg. Bake the braid until it is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Makes 1 large braided loaf.