Italian Easter bread makes a spectacular and festive addition to an Easter table setting. My tradition has been to make the bread dough Easter morning before church, cover it and let the dough rise. Then Easter day, after church, I assemble and braid the dough into a ring with eggs and let it rise again. The Easter bread is baked off around 4 pm or so, just in time for dinner. Of course, if you plan to have Easter dinner earlier in the day, you could move up your baking schedule to either earlier in the morning, or the day before.
Traditional Greek Easter bread, tsoureki, incorporates red dyed eggs to symbolize the blood of Christ. I like baking the bread with pastel colored eggs - the choice is yours. The eggs are placed uncooked in the bread dough and will become hard cooked when the dough is baked in the oven. I find it works best to color the eggs the night before Easter, so the color can thoroughly dry.
The plants grow similar to fennel with flowers that bloom in umbels. After flowering the blooms will go to seed. The seeds can be collected by cutting off the umbels and drying them on sheet pans. Anise seeds enhance breads and baked goods, such as Anise Biscotti and Pizzelles.
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