Sweet Easter BreadHere’s an extra treat today. I’ve made my first “Sweet Easter Bread,” where I got to insert some colorfully dyed hard-boiled eggs in each. I pulled together recipe thoughts from different directions, including My Best German Recipes, Food Fanatic, and The Slow Roasted Italian. First, let me talk about coloring Easter eggs…

I created three different natural dyes. Three little pots on my stove top. In one cup of water, I boiled a cup of shredded red beets, then simmered for 30 minutes. This became my magenta dye. In another cup of water, I boiled a cup of shredded purple cabbage, then simmered for 30 minutes. This became my blue dye. In another cup of water, I boiled a cup of onion skins, a few shakes of turmeric powder, and a few shakes of dried safflower flakes, then simmered for 30 minutes. This became my orange dye. I transferred each dye to separate bowls, let them cool, and added 1 Tbsp. white vinegar to each. I put two hard-boiled eggs in each dye bowl, then let them “marinate” in my fridge for 24 hours. See the brilliant colors I got.

Many of these bread recipes suggested to color uncooked eggs, then insert these in the bread dough, where they would cook in the oven along with the bread. I did not trust myself with this concept. I easily imagined eggs exploding in my oven, that way. Here’s my adapted recipe (and yes, I weighed everything):

Sweet Easter Bread
Makes 4 mini loaves

13.5 oz. milk
1.5 oz. dry yeast
4 eggs
33.5 oz. all-purpose flour
3.5 oz. sugar
1 Tbsp. cardamom
zest of one lemon
1 pinch salt
4 oz. butter, room-temperature and cubed
1 empty cardboard paper-towel tube
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar = simple syrup
1 egg + 1 Tbsp. milk = egg wash
candy sprinkles
4 hard-boiled eggs, colored

Microwave milk in a medium bowl until it’s only a bit warm. Sprinkle yeast into the milk and let it sit until frothy, about 5 minutes. Whisk it to help it froth. Whisk in the 4 eggs and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom, lemon zest, and salt. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the milk/yeast mixture. Knead until combined, then add the cubes of butter, a few at a time. The mixer will churn and grind with a clamoring ruckus. Hold on to it tightly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Transfer dough ball to a very large bowl that is lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise at warm room temperature for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

While your dough is rising, slice that empty paper-towel tube into four equal pieces. Wrap each piece in aluminum foil. These little foiled tubes will act as egg placeholders in your bread loaves, when they bake.

Make the simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a little saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it boils and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

After rising, punch down the dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 2 logs, about 12 inches long each. Braid the two logs and wrap them into a wreath around a little foiled tube. Do this four times. Place your wreaths on two baking sheets that are covered with parchment paper. Cover each with a clean towel and let them rest for another 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together an egg with 1 Tbsp. milk. Brush the wreaths with this, then bake them for 30 minutes, rotating them half way through the cooking. They’ll become a nice golden brown. Once they’re cool enough to touch, brush them generously with the simple syrup and sprinkle them with the candies. Pull out the little foil tubes and insert your reserved, colored, hard-boiled eggs into the holes. Hooray!