Easter Sweet Bread is a beautiful tradition in my family. Decorate with Easter grass and candy to make a festive centerpiece or gorgeous hostess gift.
5 Cups flour (use bread flour, if possible)
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 Packages (1 Tablespoon) active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs (beaten)
4 Raw eggs (to place in braided wreath while baking)
egg wash prior to baking
1 Tablespoon milk
4 Colorfully dyed hard-boiled eggs (to decorate the wreath after cooking)
candy and Easter grass (for decorating, if desired)
This Easter Sweet Bread wreath originates from a recipe in Seventeen Magazine from March 1978! Needless to say, I've made Easter Sweet Bread more than a few times over the years -- it turns out perfectly each time and is such a beautiful decoration for the table. Makes a unique hostess gift too!
Enjoy! - The Recipe Wench
Prepare the dough
In large bowl mix together 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt yeast and grated lemon peel.
Warm the half and half and butter up to NOT more than 110°F and add to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Knead with dough hook or turn out onto floured board and knead for about 5 minutes.
Place in oiled or buttered bowl. Turn dough over so that it is covered with oil/butter.
Cover with towel and allow to rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
Prepare the braided wreath
Place dough on floured board. Punch down and knead for another 5 minutes. Allow dough to "rest" for about 10 minutes.
Divide dough into thirds and roll each portion out to 24" lengths.
Braid the 3 pieces. Form into a circle and pinch the ends together to seal wreath.
Place the wreath on a greased baking sheet.
Take 4 raw eggs and push them down gently into the dough.
Cover and allow the wreath to rise another 30 minutes.
If necessary, gently push eggs down again into the dough.
Mix egg with tablespoon milk and brush over entire wreath, including raw eggs.
Bake in 350°F oven for 35-45 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Eggs are now hard-cooked and can be used for another recipe.
On a foundation (such as a round aluminum pizza pan), spread out a layer of Easter grass. Place the wreath on top. Add decorated eggs and candy.