Post by Alison Hein.
Caution! Your secrets are not safe with me. I have been known to sneak into restaurant kitchens and accost people in grocery stores in the quest to uncover their families’ culinary treasures.
I finagled this delightful Easter Bread recipe from a trusting soul encountered while getting a mani / pedi. It was quite impressive how my new friend remembered the ingredients and quantities. I silently recited the instructions over and over until my nails dried, then raced home to jot them down.
This method of bread-baking intrigued me. Normally, one would let the yeast activate, unmolested, while readying the remaining ingredients. I worried that the bread would not rise properly with too much disturbance of the yeast. This recipe also calls for no second rise of the dough, another surprise. Nevertheless, after fiddling with the methods and metrics (my silent recitations may have been flawed), I managed to produce a lovely golden braided ring. Lightly sweet and dense with a hint of vanilla, this stolen Easter Bread is pure pleasure when warm and daubed with butter.
Jazz it up by tucking a few colored eggs into the center of your circle – a lush adornment for your holiday table, or your breakfast tray.
4¼ cups flour
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add two cups of flour to food processor. Sprinkle yeast on top of flour. Put milk, butter, sugar and salt into heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat until just melted. Pour milk mixture into food processor and pulse a few times. Add two eggs, vanilla and remaining 2¼ cups of flour to food processor. Pulse until dough starts to ball and pulls away from sides.
Turn dough out onto floured board, and separate into three equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece into a long rope, about 30 inches long. Loosely braid dough ropes into a circle, and place in a circular pan (I use a 10-inch diameter cake pan). Allow to rise in a warm place, covered, for about one hour, until almost doubled in size. Beat remaining egg and lightly brush over top of risen dough. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes until golden on top. Tuck a few colored eggs in the center of the ring, if you like. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.