I adapted this wonderful bread a bit. I use a brioche recipe for this. I think it is such a beautiful yet delicious bread for Easter.
Here is a little bit of history of this bread, by (jovinacooksitalian.com)
The Italians love to celebrate holidays with food and Easter is one of those special holidays. Easter is preceded by Lent, a time of fasting for many Christians. Come Easter Sunday, it is time to celebrate, splurge and indulge.
Eggs are often associated with Easter and are considered a symbol of birth and life. The tradition of giving eggs as gifts can be traced back to the Persians, who used to exchange eggs at the beginning of Spring, while the custom of decorating eggs was popular in ancient Egypt. The tradition of exchanging eggs for Easter, however, dates back to the Middle Ages, beginning in 837 AC, when it was prohibited to eat animal products during Lent. During the forty days prior to Easter, eggs were conserved and decorated.
Beginning in the 12th century, the eggs were blessed and given to servants and children as part of a ritual called “Benedictio ovorum.” This is where the tradition of exchanging Easter eggs all began, well before the arrival of chocolate in Europe. Originally, eggs were painted in various colors and given to children in the streets of Europe as an Easter present. The tradition of chocolate Easter eggs, probably, did not began until the 19th century.
Bread is also an important part of any Easter celebration. Italian Easter Bread is rich with symbolism, baked in the shape of a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. The three pieces of dough braided together represent the three elements of the Holy Trinity. The bread is either baked with colored eggs directly in the dough or with white eggs that can be decorated after baking.
4 cups of flour
125ml melted butter
250ml lukewarm milk
1 packet of instant yeast.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in a stand mixer.
Beat the eggs, milk and butter together.
Add to the flour mixture and knead together until smooth and elastic.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 – ½ hours.
Put the dough onto a lightly floured mat or counter and knead gently, then cut into 6 equal pieces.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Cut each of the 6 pieces in half and roll out to about 20cm long. It doesn’t have to look pretty at this point.
Pinch one end together.
Now twist the two ropes together. Pinch the other end together.
Next, join the ends to each other to form a ring, twisting as necessary to keep the ropes from undoing themselves. Place an egg into the center of the ring.
Once you have made all four let them rise for about half an hour.
Brush each one with a beaten egg and bake for 25- 30 minutes until golden brown.
Fabric & Bedding: Samesyn
Photography: Lindy Kriek