Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays, but I can't think of any special foods I associate with this day except maybe jelly beans. Here is a beautiful soft bread that is perfect for a special Easter breakfast. It is very rich, with eggs, butter and milk in the dough making it a treat for those who have given up dairy for Lent. Eggs have long been a symbol of springtime, renewal and rebirth, and were forbidden by the early Christian church during Lent which made them a special treat on Easter.
I made the dough in my bread machine because I don't have a mixer large enough to handle dough and I didn't want to knead it by hand. It worked beautifully. The dough turned out silky smooth and slightly golden in color. It was very easy to work with and the designs are simple to make. For the complete recipe, click through to The Italian Dish. If you decide to try this dough, be aware that the measurement of flour is a starting point, and you will have to add more as it's kneaded. Here are some photos of the process of forming the dough.
First, it's divided into twelve pieces, then rolled into long snakes. If the dough starts to tighten up and refuse to stretch out, just let it rest for 5 minutes and it will cooperate again. Next, twist two pieces together and make a circle 'nest'. Place on a greased pan to rise. You can make six of these nests, or you can make braids. I made three nests and two braids. To make the braids, choose three snakes and start braiding in the center, then do the other side.
Allow the bread to rise for about one and a half to two hours or until it is nearly doubled in size. Preheat the oven and prepare to bake! Crack an egg into a small bowl and mix it up with a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush the dough with this and add sprinkles if you choose. My son loved helping with this and pressing an egg into each nest.
The eggs cook in the oven with the bread. It puffed up and baked and browned beautifully. I was so pleased with the result and couldn't believe I made such a pretty treat. Golden brown on top, soft and fluffy on the inside, this is a great recipe for a special day.