This seasonal favorite is just so much fun to make around Easter each year and is actually great anytime if you omit the whole raw eggs which nestle into whichever bread-braid you design. Adding a sugar glaze is optional but a nice twist if you sprinkle on some orange zest.
1 cube butter (4 ounces)
2 cups milk
2 packages Rapid Rise yeast
3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons anisette liqueur or brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
grated zest of one lemon
8 cups flour or more if needed
Whole Eggs in the shell, to bake in the bread
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of sugar (for egg wash)
Nonpareils to decorate (optional)
- Melt the butter with the milk. Add the yeast in the warm milk (make sure it is not hot) and stir to dissolve the yeast.
- In a large bowl, mix the whole eggs and egg yolks with the sugar, salt, olive oil, anisette, vanilla and lemon peel. Add the warm milk with butter and yeast to the egg mixture. Slowly add the flour and stir with a fork to incorporate all the flour. Mix with your hands and add more flour if needed until the dough is no longer sticky.
- With the dough placed in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Shape the dough into ropes and braid into the various shapes. Nestle the whole eggs in their shells in the braids and cover with thin ropes of dough. Let the dough rise again for another hour.
- After the second rise, brush the dough with the egg wash. Decorate with nonpareils if you desire.
- Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes.
Be creative with your braid….a round or oblong loaf, small loaves, a long twist….have fun! Your family will love it!