Veggie Desserts & Thermapen: Easy Italian Braided Easter Bread

Today we’re sharing one of the most unique looking bread recipes we have ever seen! Kate from Veggie Desserts has created an Easy Italian Braided Easter Bread, a light and fluffy sweet bread that is braided beautifully around some cotswold blue eggs. If you’d like to know more about Kate and see her top recipe notes please see her blog here.

Ingredients

  • 400 g plain flour (all-purpose), divided
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sachet active dry yeast (7 g/ 0.25 oz/ 2 teaspoons)
  • 150 g milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
To decorate:
  • 6 whole raw eggs dyed, plain or I used Cotswold Blue eggs for a natural colour
To glaze:
  • 1 egg and 1 tbsp. milk for egg glaze

Method

Add 125g (1 cup) of the flour to a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with standard mixer tool attached) with the sugar, salt and yeast and mix well. Set aside.

Add the milk and butter to a small saucepan over a high heat until milk is warm (50°C/125°F) and butter is softened (it does not have to be completely melted).

Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture; mixing constantly.

Add the two eggs and 60g (0.5 cup) of the remaining flour and beat it in well.

Add the remaining flour gradually in 60g/1/2 cup increments, beating each addition in well. Keep mixing until the dough has pulled together.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well for about 7 minutes until you feel the dough have more elasticity – aka the gluten developing. (Or use the dough hook in a stand mixer for approx 5 minutes).

Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in and turn it to coat with oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Gently push the down the dough to deflate and then turn out of its bowl onto a lightly floured surface.

Divide the dough into 2 and pat into rounds. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll each round into a long rope about 3 feet long (it will be about 1.5 inches thick).

Pinch one end of each rope together and loosely twist to form a long braid/plait (as it rises the gaps will reduce).

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper (or lightly butter the tray).

Form the braided dough into a large round on the prepared baking tray and pinch the ends together. Nestle the raw eggs between the twisted ropes. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

To make the glaze simply whisk the egg and milk together. Gently brush over the dough (not the eggs), taking care not to go right to the base or you’ll ‘glue’ the bread to the pan/baking paper as it bakes.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and a thermometer in the centre reads approx 85°C.

Using a Thermapen

When a recipe calls for warm milk, it’s hard to know exactly what that means. If the milk is too hot, it can kill the yeast, but checking the temperature and getting it to 50°C/125°F means it’s perfect.

This is a soft bread, so it’s easy to over or under bake it if you’re not sure that it’s done.  Checking the temperature in the centre has reached 180°C/350°F means you can be absolutely certain that it’s ready and won’t be doughy or dried out.

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