Monday, June 13, 2011

Alpine Easter Bread

This is an egg bread recipe and, like most, has a history of myths and metaphors behind it. Egg bread is recognized as a symbol of rebirth, which is usually why the loaves are most popular in the spring.  They are also known to have certain healing powers.

This particular bread gives off  a wonderful aroma while baking. If you have a full house, everyone will want a piece when it comes out of the oven.  The loaf has a light texture and is flavored with lemon and vanilla.  Since the bread has a subtle sweetness like Hawaiian bread, it is good for breakfast as well as dinner. I am tempted to try french toast with it-if there is any to spare for tomorrow am. This makes one 10 inch round loaf, so you will need a spring form pan or cake pan of that size.

Alpine Easter Bread
courtesy of Baking Bread:Old and New Traditions Cookbook

1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
3 eggs (room temp)
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter
pinch of sugar
4-4 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add milk and butter.  Heat until all the butter is melted and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

Put warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over the water.  Stir and let stand for about 10 minutes to get foamy.

Get out a stand mixer and put in the paddle attachment.  Place salt, lemon zest, sugar and 1 1/2 cups of flour in mixer bowl.  Mix on low for about 30 seconds.  Add the melted butter and milk combination to the batter.  Then pour in extracts.  Lastly, put all eggs and yeast mixture into batter. Beat all ingredients together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Switch the speed to low and add the flour in 1/2 cup increments, mixing after each addition.  Once the last 1/2 cup has been added, take out the paddle attachment and put in dough hook.  Knead the dough for about 3 minutes-adding about 1 tablespoon of flour after each minute passes. After this, the dough will still have a sticky texture and will not be dry, so do not be tempted to add any more flour.

Grease another large bowl and place dough inside.  Then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours. 

During the rising time, grease the inside of your pan.  After the dough has risen, spoon one large lump into pan, letting the dough spread evenly.  Then cover and let rise for another hour.

After 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Once 2nd rising time is complete, uncover and place pan in the oven to bake for about 45-60 minutes. Bread is done when cake tester comes out clean and top is toasted.

Let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes, then release and place bread upright on rack to cool.