Italian Easter Breads

Yes, I know that I should have posted about this recipe before Easter, but well.... I didn't. :)
So I'm just gonna post about it now. That way you can make it for next year's Easter or just when you are in a let's-make-sweet-white-breads-braided-into-a-circle-covered-in-sprinkles-with-a-painted egg-in-the-middle-mood, or something...

I do really think you have to make these, now or next year. They were the showstealers on my Easter brunch, everyone loved them! They look very colorful and beautiful, and my aunt asked me if I bought them at a bakery! That totally made my day, ofcourse. :)
The bread itself is a sweet, white bread, that tasted delicious with a bit of jam.

Apart from all that, I really liked making these! I don't make a lot of bread, but I really liked to make these, kneading the dough, letting it rise (okay, maybe that was a little less fun)... But after all, I fell in love with these fun, colorful breads. Try them for yourself!

Italian Easter Bread
from The Italian Dish
1.25 cups milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
3.5 cups flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
sprinkles or pearlized sugar
3.5 cups flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
sprinkles or pearlized sugar

Instructions:* tip:  the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled.  They cook when the bread bakes.  I usually just dye the eggs uncooked, without hardboiling them.  Saves time.  Just be careful they don't crack!
In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just till butter melts.    In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar.  Add the warm (not hot - it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.
Place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again.  Brush each  bread with beaten egg wash.  Put on the sprinkles or sugar.   In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 minutes.  Cool on rack.
You can eat the eggs, but if you leave the bread sitting out for a few hours, don't eat them.  Common sense.

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