The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world. Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread and every one is different in some way. The first recipe, German Easter BreadOsterbrot, is usually a soft, white loaf made in a boule-shape and scored with a cross. Filled with currants and almonds and scented with lemon peel, German Easter bread is not as heavy as a brioche; it is light like Panettone but not as tall, since it is not baked in a form. It is made with low protein flour, which gives this bread a more cake-like texture.

The second recipe, Mama Pia’s Easter Bread/ Anello di Pasqua Maria Pia, is taken from The Tucci Cookbook, by Stanley Tucci. It has a more pastry-like texture and involves whole raw eggs which can be dyed before baking to give a more festive look. I managed to bake only the Italian bread at the very last minute of this month’s challenge but was too lazy to dye the eggs or to go for any kind of decoration. Maybe I’ll go foe the leavened German bread for next year’s Easter festivities. Wishing all my Daring Bakers a very happy Easter 2014!

MAMA PIA EASTER BREAD/ ANELLO DI PASQUA MARIA PIA

Ingredients:

For the Dough

9 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup (120 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) sugar

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

4 cups (1 litre) (17½ oz) (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour

½ teaspoon (3 gm) table salt

4 teaspoons (20 ml) (2/3 oz) (20 gm) baking powder

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) (¾ cup) (180 ml) (6 oz) (170 gm) butter, softened

For the Glaze

1½ cups (360 ml) (6-2/3 oz) (190 gm) powdered/confectioners’/icing sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk and ½ teaspoon lemon extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Whisk together 6 eggs, sugar and vanilla until frothy and pale yellow.
  • Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, salt, and baking powder. Chop butter into cubes and add gradually.

  • Mix until the mixture reaches a coarse sand-like texture. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour/butter mixture and mix.
  • Add about ½ cup of reserved flour until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface before shaping dough.

  • Shape the dough into a roughly 15-inches (38 cm) log that is approximately 2-inches (5 cm) in diameter before dividing.
  • Cut 1 to 1½ inches (2½ to 4 cm) off one end and set aside. Place the log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • Shape it into a circle, pinching the ends together. At the join, place one raw eggs. Place the other two at equal distance.
  • Take reserved dough and cut it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin rope and place in an ‘X’ pattern over each egg.

  • You may have to wet the ends to get them to stay in place. Bake at moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.
  • The  top of bread should turn light golden brown and skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool it completely on a wire rack.

  • When cooled, in a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’/powdered/icing sugar, milk and lemon extract until smooth.
  • Use the whisk to drizzle over the entire bread. Allow glazing to set, about 5 minutes, slice and serve. Makes 10 servings.

Italian Easter Bread

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