This Easter bread is a slightly sweet bread with a very soft crumb, very different from the purchased ones, that I simply flavored with orange and fennel. If you want to add other aromas (cinnamon, lemon, just to give some examples) you can do it. It is also a sweet bread that you can make at any other time of the year. Skip the boiled eggs on top, completely optional, and accompany with a cup of tea or coffee. It is delicious slightly toasted and spread with a little butter, so, if there is any left, here’s a suggestion for breakfast on Easter Monday.
The preparation is very quick but then the dough needs time to grow. If you want to make it for Sunday lunch, I suggest that you knead it the night before and let it rise overnight. Next morning just shape it, let it rise for another hour and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- 325 - 400 g all-purpose flour
- 80 g sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried baker's yeast
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- 60 ml vegetable oil
- 60 ml milk
- 2 medium eggs slightly beaten
- 1 beaten egg to brush
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
- 3 raw and whole eggs for decorating (optional)
- Place the dough hook on the mixer (if you prefer, you can knead the easter bread by hand). In the bowl of the mixer, add 325 g of flour, sugar, baker’s yeast, ground fennel and orange zest. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients: oil, milk and beaten eggs. Knead until you get an homogeneous dough, even if it does not appear to be completely smooth or dry. If the mixture is very moist add a little more flour, but only one spoon at a time. If the dough gets too dry the easter bread will also be dry after baking.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, cover with cling film and leave to leaven in a warm place for 3 hours.
- Line the bottom of a baking tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle the countertop with a little flour. Remove the dough from the bowl where it leavened and knead it slightly to remove the air. Divide the dough into three equal parts and make a roll with each one of about 50 cm. Join the 3 rolls at one end and make a braid. Finish by also joining the three rolls at the end. Fold the start and end junctions, so that they stay below the bread. Transfer the easter bread to the tray, cover with cling film and let it rise for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180º C. Brush the easter bread with beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, if using. Distribute the raw and whole eggs (optional). Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden.
- At this time of year my kitchen is not hot enough to leaven a dough. My trick is to put the bowl inside the oven with the heating function on at a temperature of 35° C (my oven only has two temperatures in this function, 35° C and 60° C).
- You can let the dough rise overnight and finish and bake it the next day in the morning.
- You may want to check also this recipe for a traditional Portuguese Easter bread.
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