Braided Easter Bread
With Easter coming up, you’ll want to have a festive meal. This rainbow braided Easter bread embedded with a dyed egg will be more then enough to celebrate.
1 ¼ cups whole milk, warmed to about 95 degrees F.
⅓ cup Two Rivers Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
1 ½ tsp yeast
2 eggs (at room temperature) beaten
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (start with 4 cups and add as needed to make a soft, but not wet, dough)
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
In a large mixer bowl combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar. Add the warm milk and olive oil and mix together.
Add 4 cups of the flour and mix with a dough hook (or by hand); adding small amounts of flour until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. (You may not need all of it, or you may need a bit more, just add it until the dough is not “wet” anymore.)
Knead until smooth with either the dough hook or turn out onto a floured board and knead, keeping your hands coated in flour. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces.
Roll each piece to form about a ¾ inch rope 12 inches long, then taking two pieces, twist to form a braid, pinching the ends together. Loop into a circle, pinching the ends to close.
Place each braid on a cookie sheet lined with parchment (you will need two cookie sheets). Cover and let rise again; about another hour. (Can be prepared a day ahead to this point and kept, covered, in the refrigerator; remove an hour before cooking).
Prepare the oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees if convection). Place the oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.
Brush each braid with the egg wash; sprinkle with sprinkles (if using) and nestle a colored egg in the center of the ring. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown, switching the cookie sheets halfway thought the baking time (not necessary if using convection).
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