Since I came from a large family with so many traditions, some of my favorite memories revolve around the recipes my Nanny made for the holidays. Easter has a sweet spot in my heart, and there is not a year that has gone by without her famous Easter Bread — a rich, sweet bread, similar to brioche, flavored with orange and braided to perfection. For a special Easter touch, eggs are nestled into the dough and glazed with a thin sugar coating topped with colorful sprinkles. From my family to yours, enjoy!
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup whole milk
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
1 orange, zest and juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs (for decoration)
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup whole milk
1. Place flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl with dough hook attachment and add shortening until a course crumb forms. Heat milk in a saucepan until warm to the touch (110 degrees F) and add yeast.
2. Combine eggs, orange zest and juice, vanilla extract and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly add yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead until it comes together (it will be dry at this point). Add egg mixture a little at a time until fully combined.
3. Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand until dough is soft and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).
4. Divide dough into two pieces and roll each piece into 24-inch-long pieces. Twist the two pieces together. Form the rope into a 12” round circle, pinching the ends together to seal, and nestle 4 eggs into the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (approx 45 minutes).
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; once the bread is ready, bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow the bread to cool completely before glazing and adding sprinkles.
Whisk together powdered sugar and milk, adding more of either ingredient to achieve the desired consistency. Use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the Easter Bread.