This is a beautiful presentation--sure to have people asking, "how did you DO that?" And you can say (truthfully), "oh, it was nothing, really." Because this bread is a lot easier than it looks, (just plan your time well)and its a LOT of fun to make. The eggs are very edible, even after being cooked twice and left to "rise" once! The bread itself is delicious. I found this gem in Bon Appetit. Since I'm posting this post-Easter 2012, you can make this just a fun brunch bread by leaving the eggs undyed--but be sure to try it next Easter!
- 2⁄3 cup milk
- 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 3⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one 1/4 ounce envelope)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 3⁄4 cups flour, unbleached, all-purpose
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup butter, unsalted, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon, melted
- flour, for dusting
- 6 -7 large eggs
- food coloring (optional)
- Boil 5-6 eggs, leaving one for egg wash for bread. Cool completely. If desired, color eggs according to food-coloring package instructions. Eggs can be done ahead and chilled.
- Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat till instant-read thermometer reads 110-115 degrees. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 2 eggs at room temperature; whisk until smooth.
- Combine remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.
- Brush a medium bowl with some melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours (or about 2 1/2 to 3 hours if made ahead and refrigerated).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough. Divide into 2 equal pieces. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 16"--long rope with tapered ends (If dough begins to bounce back, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes to allow dough to relax).
- Arrange ropes side by side lengthwise on prepared sheet. Pinch top ends together. Braid dough. Pinch bottom ends together to secure (braided loaf with be about 12" long). I angled it on the pan to give it more room. Tuck dyed eggs between braids, spacing evenly. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed but not doubled in size, 45-50 minutes.
- Arrange rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Whisk remaining egg with 2 tsp warm water in a small bowl. Avoiding dyed eggs, brush dough all over with egg wash. Bake until bread is golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 190 degrees, 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, and be prepared to receive your compliments!