Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Bread

I know its been a while since my last blog....what can I say? I have been busy. Lifestyle changes and some medical issues took precedence. I am glad to be back. I will be leaving for Texas this coming Saturday ( 5 days ) for the month of April. I will be staying at my brother and sis-in-laws house and taking care of the kids, pets, house and cars for a couple of weeks while they celebrate their anniversary in Europe! I am happy to do it. I love spending time with all of them. So the past few weeks, I have been preparing for a lengthy vacation. Clothes, Spring Cleaning, Food preparation for my mom while I am gone, etc..... Today I am making my Easter Bread....the only time I havent made it is when I was living in FL for one Easter.  I decided I didnt want to leave my family without it so I am making it ahead of time and freezing it for them to enjoy on the holiday. My son usually gets his own loaf and wouldnt want to disappoint him. My mother started making this recipe when I was a child and when it became difficult for her to mix the dough by hand, I took over. It is a family tradition and its most delicious. I refuse to revise this recipe and make any changes, it may not be Healthy but its too good and we only eat it once a year. I will be making it in TX this yr as well for my brother Scott and his neice Cassie will help me and maybe carry on our tradition in TX. I serve this bread on Easter morning for breakfast with our colored eggs and fresh fruit. It is a sweet bread and more like a dessert than a dinner bread, but we Lessard's eat it with dinner too!

Easter Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 lukewarm water
1 cup milk ( scalded )
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 1/2 - 5 cups sifted flour
2 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
Sugar glaze

Soften yeast in the lukewarm water. Combine milk, sugar, butter and salt and let cool to lukewarm. Add in about 2 cups flour and mix well.***. Add eggs and continue mixing. Add softened yeast and lemon zest. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. ( I usually use about 4 1/2 cups of flour depending on the humidity ). Let rest 10 minutes.
Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl in warm place covered until doubled ( about 1 1/2 hours ). Punch down. Let rise until double again ( about 1 hr ). Punch down and divide into 2 balls. Let rest covered about 10 minutes.
for each loaf;
Divide each ball into 4 equal parts. shape 3 of those parts into strands 12 inches long tapering ends. Line up strands 1 inch apart and braid loosely without stretching dough. Diving remaining fourth into 3 strands and make strands 8 inches long and braid. Place small braid on top of large braid, tucking ends of small braid into large braid. Cover and rise until double. Bake loaves at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes . While warm spread with sugar glaze.
Makes 2 loaves.
*** Note: I use my Kitchen aid stand mixer with dough hook attachment!
Sugar Glaze:
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar with 1/4 cup hot water and 1 tsp butter..mix well until a drippy consistency and drizzle over warm breads.

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