Well, since Easter is tomorrow, I thought I would share a traditional Italian food eaten around this holiday. There are several foods that can be typically found on an Italian table during this time…..what to choose……what to choose. Now, before I go further, let me confess that I don’t actually have many specific memories of foods we ate during Easter that were particularly Italian…….maybe my memory is failing me??
I decided to ask my siblings for a little help jogging the old brain cells and, wouldn’t you know, two of them remembered my gramma making a bread “with hard-boiled eggs placed in the braids, shell and all?” Isn’t it funny how some memories are so vivid and some things just get a bit lost over time? (Funny, but also a little sad) Well….. that’s the recipe I’m going to share with you. It’s not my gramma’s specific recipe, but one of the many that I came across while leafing through pages in my stockpile of cookbooks. This recipe is from Michele Scicolone and can be found in “Entertaining With The Sopranos“ . Now, I never followed the t.v. series, but the cookbooks are pretty straight-forward and just kind of fun.
Making Easter breads are a tradition in Italy. There is a common practice of baking whole eggs, placed or braided right into the bread dough. The breads change some from region to region and are called by many different names, but the symbolism is the same. (I believe this particular recipe is a Sicilian one) Bread itself has significance on the Easter table because Jesus Christ is called the “Bread of Life”. Eggs are symbolic of re-birth.
Alright, now it’s time to share the recipe. It’s a slightly sweet bread with just the right hint of orange flavor. It makes a nice snack, or addition to your Easter meal, or…..how about for breakfast? Cut a couple slices and toast them, add a little butter…. The eggs are all ready for you to peel and eat. (You place them in the bread dough raw and they come out perfectly hard-boiled after the bread is baked!) So, there you go…..eggs and toast, all in one! By the way, speaking of the eggs…..it’s been awhile since I’ve colored any and mine came out, well, let’s say….less than perfect, but you get the idea. Try this bread! It was fun and it’s delicious!
Easter Sweet Bread (makes 2 round loaves)
- 8 tblsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
- 3 large eggs, at room temp.
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tblsp. grated orange zest
- About 5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 6 eggs, colored for Easter, if desired
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tblsp. water
- Multicolored round sprinkles