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italian easter bread

Makes 4 loaves of light and tender Italian Easter bread (about 800 grams per loaf)
Author Marie@FeelingFoodish

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1.5 cups warm milk
  • grated lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 4.5 teaspoons of instant yeast (2 envelopes)
  • 10 to 12 cups of all purpose flour
  • egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of water added)

Instructions

  1. Note that this makes 4 loaves of bread, so you may want to make half of the recipe to start.
  2. In a small bowl, add the yeast to warm (but not hot!) milk and water, stir, and set aside
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (several minutes)
  4. Add the lemon zest, extract, and oil to the egg-sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Add the milk, water and yeast mixture to the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Begin adding the flour slowly. Add only enough flour to make a very soft dough. Beat very well to allow the flour to be absorbed and avoid adding too much flour. You should aim for a dough that is soft like your earlobe.
  7. Consider weighing the flour instead of measuring it in cups (grams per 1/4 cup usually listed on the flour nutrition information)
  8. Place dough in large bowl or dough bucket, cover, and allow to rise until double (2 to 3 hours)
  9. Punch down the dough and let it bulk rise again for 2 to 3 hours.
  10. After the dough has risen a second time, punch it down again and form your loaves.
  11. To form the loaves, begin by dividing the dough according to how many loaves you'd like to make (2 pieces if you made 1/2 the recipe or 4 pieces if you made the whole recipe).
  12. For each loaf, you will then further divide each piece into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is about 1 foot long and then braid the pieces together. You can tuck the edges under and leave the loaf long or roll the braid to form a round shaped loaf.
  13. If you are decorating with eggs, dye your eggs, and allow them to dry
  14. Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheets, and brush them with the egg wash.
  15. Once the egg wash is dried, press the dyed easter eggs on top of the loaves.
  16. Cover loaves loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  17. When you are ready to bake, take loaves out of the refrigerator and heat oven to 325 degree F
  18. Place loaves in center of oven.
  19. Baking until golden - for me, this was ~40 minutes (make sure to begin checking loaves at 20-25 minutes and cover loosely with aluminum foil if they are browning too quickly)
  20. Enjoy!