Hop into Easter with this gorgeous, festive Easter Bread made with local Ontario Whole Milk and Butter and developed by beloved contributor Marcella DiLonardo. This tender, flavourful and colourful treat is based on traditional Italian Easter Bread recipes, and elevated to a new level of perfection to serve up as a breakfast treat, a snack for the kids, or as a dessert.
Marcella says “This bread is a lightly sweetened egg bread baked in a “wreath” shape and finished with a hard boiled egg in the center. Each wreath makes for a great small loaf of bread to drop off to friends and family this season. You can make them as simple or colourful as you’d like! Use a natural brown egg or get creative with a colourful dyed egg. Keep it simple with raw sugar or bring out your inner child and use rainbow sprinkles. The bread also includes a hint of star anise, a flavour and scent that instantly brings me back to baking in my grandma’s kitchen.”
In a saucepan over low heat add the milk and butter. Whisk until butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool until warm to touch.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate.
Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Turn the mixer to low speed and add one cup of flour followed by the salt, star anise and lemon zest. Once mixed, add the remaining flour one cup at a time.
Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured surface to finish kneading and shape into a ball. Transfer to a greased mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for 2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
Divide dough into 6 even rounds. Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Twist two pieces of dough together, shape to form a circle and pinch in the ends tightly to seal. Repeat with remaining dough to create 3 wreaths.
Transfer to a line baking sheet and place an egg in the middle of each wreath. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let dough rise for another 45 minutes. When 15 minutes remain, preheat the oven to 350(f) degrees.
Brush the top and sides generously with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Bread is best enjoyed the same day. Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks.