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Easter Bread

When I was a small person, I started baking bread.  I actually started baking the Easter Bread.  I think I was about eight.  I actually do not make it very often any more.  I usually make hot cross uns because I like those.  Small Mister calls them cookies which tells you how often we have them around here.  I sent off a box for Easter for him but did not get any "cookies" in there.  Maybe next year.

This year, we went camping with my Beloved's sister's family.  I decided to make the Easter Bread that I grew up with, with a few modifications, for everyone.  I would say it was a hit since this was the only picture I got of it.  It is based on the Parker House roll recipe.  The modification I make is sourdough and I do not scald the milk.  I knead the butter in instead of melt.  If you have any left over, it does make a very good sandwich too!

Easter Bread

sourdough starter

1 cup flour

3/4 cup water

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 large egg

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, the night before, mix the starter, 1 cup flour, and 3/4 cup water.  Cover and let sit until bubbly.  Save out a couple of tablespoons for the next baking.

Mix in the milk, butter, sugar, egg, and 2 cups flour.  Stir well.  Let sit about 1 1/2 hours.  You want a really fluffy sponge, much like pancake batter.

Mix in the salt and 1 1/2 cups flour.  It works best if this dough is on the soft side so go gentle on adding extra flour.  Start kneading.  If it is too sticky, add flour slowly.  Knead the dough until soft and smooth.  

Cover and let rise until double.  It could take 1 1/2 hours or more depending on how cold your house is.  Ours is cold.  If you need to, you can punch it down and let it rise to double again, or shape it.  If you let it rise more, the keeping ability of the bread is better and the sourdough can become a stronger flavor.  I find it is the warmer rise that makes the sourdough strong.  Or very cold and long.

Shape the bread into a braid.  I braid my hair every day so this to me is just common knowledge but here is what you wish to do.  Divide the dough into three equal portions or as close as you can make them.  On a floured surface, roll out each portion into a snake.  I find it is easier to start in the middle and work my way to the ends.  It makes a smoother snake.  Each snake should be about the same length.  

Here is the tricky bit.  Lay the snakes next to each other.  You will actually get a smoother bread braid if you start from the middle.  I am better at showing someone how to do it then write it out so try the diagrams in the Tassajara bread book or look on youtube.  When you have finished one end, do the other.

Put the braid on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper.  Cover and let rise again.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for one hour.

To make the bread fancy for Easter, I drizzle it with a glaze made of a powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Just so good.

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