My Kitchen Antics: Italian Easter Bread

Makes 6

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White bread flour- 390g, plus more if needed

Active dry yeast- 2 1/4 tsp 

Salt- a pinch

Granulated sugar- 95g 

Eggs- 2

Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp (optional)

Butter- 80g, melted

Milk- 295ml 

To decorate

Eggs

Egg white, for egg wash

sprinkles

Red food colouring, or colour of your choice

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In the bowl of a free standing mixer throw in the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well

Melt the butter in the milk, either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Don’t boil it, warm it just until the butter melts. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast

Beat the egg into the flour mix followed by the vanilla and milk and butter mix. Give a stir to roughly mix it. Put on the dough hook and knead on medium for about 7 to 8 minutes

If you find that the dough is still wet, add some flour, bit by bit, till the dough starts pulling off the sides of the bowl

If you don’t have a mixer, then follow all the steps and knead the dough by hand on a floured work surface until pliable and no longer sticky. This might take around 10 to 12 minutes

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, loosely cover with a cloth or cling film and leave to prove for about 2 hours in a warm place or until it doubles in size. I usually keep it in an oven at about 20°C and it works

While the dough is proofing dye the eggs. Dilute the food colouring of your choice in warm water and gently place the egg in it. I used a brown egg, so lighter colours like pink and yellow wouldn’t show, so I used red. Let the egg stay in the solution for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the stronger the colour.

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Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down lightly and transfer on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes and divide the dough into 12 pieces

Roll each piece to form a rope around 1 inch in thickness and pair them up in two. Pinch the edges and twist them to form a braid of sorts and bring both the ends together to form a circle

Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and place the dyed egg into the centre of the circle. Keep aside to proof for another hour or so. When ready to bake, do an egg wash on the braided dough and spread the sprinkles on top

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4

Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until the bread is golden in colour. Cool on racks before slicing.

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