I love traditional baking for the holidays. Although I did not grow up eating Easter breads, I think this may be a new tradition in my family. Early in Christianity, eggs were forbidden during Lent. According to foodtimeline.org, this made the eggs "bountiful and exciting forty days later." The eggs were often colored in celebration. The egg eventually became the symbol for Christ's resurrection from the tomb.
This bread is just slightly sweet. It's very easy to make! Should you decide to use colored RAW eggs (the eggs cook with the bread), dye the eggs then let them dry overnight in the fridge. Then rinse the eggs then dry them thoroughly before placing them into the bread. (The blue dye seeped into the bread as I did not wait long enough after dying the egg.) The original recipe stated that the bread should be baked for almost an hour but I found that it didn't take more than 25 minutes!
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|1.||In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.|
|2.||Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.|
|3.||Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.|
|4.||Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.|
|5.||Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.|
|6.||Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until golden.|