Italian Easter Bread: food to eat with tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Italian Easter Bread, delicious with a cup of black tea

Many Western cultures have special recipes that only come out on certain holidays, especially Christmas and Easter. Sweet and savory dishes pair well with tea, and a hot cup of tea alongside a special holiday treat can be the perfect way to enjoy the temporary calm on the morning of a busy day. San Jose’s Italian residents have several bread and cookie-type Easter treats, but the most famous one is probably Italian Easter Bread, which goes by as many different Italian names as there are regions in Italy. Here is a fairly easy recipe, which originated on The Italian Dish blog:

Italian Easter Bread
1/3 cup butter
1 ¼ cups milk
1 envelope instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
4 to 6 uncooked Easter eggs
multicolored round sprinkles

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan or the microwave, then remove from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes (temperature should register between 115 and 130 degrees Farenheit on a food thermometer). In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, beaten eggs and sugar. Add the warm (not hot) butter mixture, and then beat in 2 cups of the flour until smooth. Add the remaining flour in ½ cup increments, mixing well in between additions, until the dough is stiff enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl as you mix it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. Punch the dough down, divide it into three equal pieces, and roll each into a rope approximately 2 inches thick. Braid the ropes together into a single loaf, pinching the ends of the ropes together to keep the braid from coming undone. Cover and let rise in a warm place for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place risen braided loaf on the prepared sheet, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with multicolored sprinkles. Nestle the raw Easter eggs in the folds of the braid, spacing them evenly along the loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, or refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, when cooled, if you want to eat the Easter eggs, which will now be hard-cooked. Discard the Easter eggs if left at room temperature more than a few hours. Makes 1 loaf.

You can dye the Easter eggs and make the dough ahead of time, up to the first rising, and refrigerate it, covered, overnight, to bake the next day. The first rising should happen in the fridge, so you should only have to let it come to room temperature, punch it down and shape it, let it rise the second time and bake it in the morning. Or, you can leave off the Easter eggs, and bake the loaf on its own the day before, and have it ready for breakfast with a hearty black tea, and perhaps some chocolate from the Easter bunny, in the morning!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.  

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest  

For more information:

The Italian Dish blog
“How to give an Italian Tea”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips” 
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Cinnamon-raisin tea bread pudding with cream cheese filling”
“Aztec chocolate bread pudding to eat with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Enjoy traditional Irish seed cake with a nice cup of tea”
“Pan-Pacific Expo Canapes for the tea-table” 

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Filed under History, Holiday, Recipes

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