Easter Bread – A Design Aside

Home-made Easter bread ala Dorothy Thomas

My Italian Grandmother could charm straw into gold when it came to food – she had to. Bringing up 5 kids during the depression was not easy, but she was no stranger to stretching pennies. My great grand parents arrived on US shores penniless and pregnant to seek work from Wickwire Industries, which produced barbed wire fences for farms. When grandma was born, her parents not afford a crib so Grandma was laid in a wooden macaroni box padded with soft linens and lined with handmade lace. I would love to say I have the lace, but it is lost to time. When my Grandma passed at age 92, 300 people waited in line in front of the church to pay respects, and stand in testament to her marinara sauce. We have all joked that if she bottle it, we would all be rich – but today I share her second claim to fame.

My Grandma beside the picture of herself that my grandpa removed from the photographers window, seeking to keep her formidable beauty entirely to himself.

As my Easter gift to you, for making Re-Do it Design a part of your precious free moments I share with you today my Grandma’s recipe for Easter Bread. The health conscious and those of you with a bikini goal, may consider yourselves excused – this bread makes Julie Powell‘s Julia Child epoch cooking sojourn look like Jenny Craig. But for those of you who believe in the power of Easter to forgive tasty transgressions, here goes nothing.

These are odd measurements – I am exact only with regard to color. I measure by eye and cook from the heart – meaning that like Grandma, I pinch and dump so these are approximations:

3 egg yolks

Image via Wikipedia

 

Recipe makes 2 loaves of Easter Bread:

  • about 3/4 of a 5lb bag of flour
  • a whole stick of butter
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • about a cup of water
  • 10 egg yolks
  • about 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 1 cube of yeast, which is in the refrigerator section of the grocery store (it works best, really!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract(it’s strong;
    Hand-made_butter

    Image via Wikipedia

    you just want a hint)

  • 3 lemons zested and juiced – set one-third aside for glaze
  • 2 colored boiled Easter eggs
  • about 1/2 cup of melted butter to set aside with a pastry brush

Glaze:

  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • about a cup of confectioners sugar
  • about 1/4 of melted butter
  • About a cup of confectioners sugar
  • colored sprinkles

Bring the evaporated milk just to a boil in a sauce pan with a stick of butter and remove quickly from heat before it boils over. Add the lemon peel and Set aside.

Pour the flour into a generous sized bowl and mix in the sugar and salt.

Wisk the egg yolks by hand until they change to a pleasant lemony color. Add the almond extract.

Pour your water into a smaller bowl with your milk mixture to cool it somewhat. When it is still very warm crumble in your yeasts and mix it in thoroughly (if it’s too hot to put your finger in the yeast will die; too luke warm and the yeast will not rise). Sour the mixture with your lemon juice, and add the egg yolks with almond extract. Mix together completely with a wisk by hand.

Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture in. Knead it by hand – more is better, and you will need that exercise! The dough should feel springy and smell lovely by now.

Grease a bowl or a deep metal pot with butter or cooking oil. Place your dough in your deep container, and brush on some melted butter to keep it moist while rising. Cover with a clean dish or hand towel so the dough can breathe but place it in the oven or an enclosed cupboard where it can be still and not cold.

When the dough doubles in size, roll it onto a clean lightly floured surface, punch it down, and knead it again.

Cut your dough in half. It’s easiest to roll each with your hands into log shapes and connect the ends, so each is a loosely formed circle. Grab it at one end and flip it over on one side to create a figure-eight that hides the connected end underneath. (those of you who love to twist and braid feel free to get fancy) Cover your dough forms, brush again with melted butter, recover with cloth, and return to the cold oven.

When loaves have doubled in size, place a colored egg in hole at the center of each side of the figure-eight, brushing with melted butter (again!) and Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Bread should be nicely gold brown.

Mix the last zested lemon skin and 1 lemon’s juice with about a cup of confectioners sugar (more or less, depending on how your like your glaze and 1/4 of (yes more) melted butter. Ass your sprinkles while everything is warm so the colors run a bit. Eat for Easter morning. Grandma Dorothy is smiling at you – Happy Easter!