One of the European traditions surrounding Easter is braided bread. In our family, we make braided Easter nests with a colored egg in the middle. This recipe takes a little bit of planning, and the dough needs a lot of rising time, but it is surely worth the trouble. Here are two things to consider first off:
- Since the recipe requires 6 raw, colored eggs, make sure you color these ahead of time when you are coloring all your boiled eggs as well. DO NOT USE BOILED EGGS IN THIS RECIPE!
- The day you make these, start around 8am in the morning if you want them done around noon. The dough requires two rises of 1 hour each, plus 20-25 minutes of baking time, plus however long it takes you to make a yeast dough and braid the nests.
Ingredients for the dough (makes 6 Easter nests):
- 2/3 milk, warmed
- pinch of sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 cups of flour (we grind our own)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
Ingredients for glaze:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- abt 2 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
If you prefer a sour-sweet glaze, substitute milk for lemon juice and omit vanilla.
- colored sprinkles (optional)
- Warm milk to lukewarm in a saucepan, add the pinch of sugar, then sprinkle in yeast, let sit for 5 minutes until yeast gets foamy.
- Melt butter in a separate pan, beat the 2 eggs slightly.
- Mix remaining dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle.
- Pour in milk-yeast mixture, butter (make sure it is lukewarm as well so that it does not kill the yeast) and beaten eggs into the well, and mix. You can use a mixer with a dough hook or a good ol’e wooden spoon.
- Mix until a dough forms, then knead for about ten minutes. Dough should be smooth and a bit firm.
First rise: Cover dough and let rise until double. This will take about an hour.
- Punch dough down and knead again gently, then cut into 6 pieces.
- Cut each of the 6 pieces in half and roll the halves about 9 inches long. No need to make it overly pretty at this point.
- Pinch both pieces together at one end, then twist around each other.
- Join the ends together to form a ring, twisting some more if they come undone.
- Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and put a raw colored egg in the middle of each ring.
Second rise: Place in the slightly warmed oven and let rise for about an hour.
- Remove from oven, the preheat the oven to 350F.
- Bake Easter Nests for 20-25 minutes.
- When the rings are slightly browned, remove from oven and let cool.
While the Easter nests are cooling, make the glaze:
- Mix powdered sugar with milk and vanilla, or with lemon juice.
Add glaze; it will slowly run down the sides of the rings if it has the right consistency. Add sprinkles if desired while the glaze is still wet. Let glaze harden out and serve.
But as we all know, nobody in the family will actually want to wait until the glaze is hardened, so just go ahead and enjoy them while they are wonderfully warm and fresh.