Sicilian Easter Ring

Every year growing up, and still to this day, my mom bakes a Sicilian Easter Ring.  This is a delicious sweet bread that is perfect for Easter morning.  Traditionally, the colored eggs are baked right into the bread, my mom has stopped doing that and instead, fills the center of the ring with Easter grass and jelly beans.  The recipe in this post uses the eggs, you can either hard boil them ahead of time or not, as they will hard cook while the bread bakes.  If you are concerned about coloring the fragile eggs and placing them in the bread before baking like me, I would recommend hard boiling in advance!

Sicilian Easter Ring
Yields 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package active dry yeast
  2. ¼ cup warm water
  3. 2/3 cup warm milk
  4. 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. ¾ teaspoon salt
  7. 3 ¾ - 4 cups flour
  8. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  9. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 5 hard cooked eggs
  12. 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Stir in the milk, butter, sugar, and salt until the butter melts.
  3. Add 2 cups of flour, mix to blend. With a heavy-duty mixer or wooden spoon, beat until the dough is elastic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, and eggs.
  5. Stir in about 1 ½ cups more flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth, springy, and develops small bubbles just under the surface.
  6. Place in a greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 ½ hours).
  7. Punch dough down, turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly just to release the air.
  8. Divide into 3 equal portions.
  9. Roll each portion to form a strip 25 inches long. Place strips side by side on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and loosely braid.
  10. Curve braid to make a circle, pinching ends tightly to seal.
  11. At evenly spaced intervals, gently separate braid strands and press in the colored eggs, pointed ends down.
  12. Cover lightly and light rise until very puffy (40-45 minutes).
  13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and brush bread lightly with egg yolk mixture.
  14. Bake until the braid is browned and sounds hollow when tapped (25-30 minutes).
  15. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
  16. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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