About this dish
- Serves: 2
- Time: 30 minutes
- Method: oven baking
This is an Easter morning favorite, another one of my family’s recipes that is made only one day a year. My dad liked to take un-iced slices and toast them, spreading a thick layer of jam on top, sometimes with butter first. I (of course) like the iced version better.
Since I moved to California, I’ve made several batches (usually 3, or 6 braided loaves) a year. Easter morning I host a brunch of my extended West-Coast ‘family’, which gets larger each year. It includes scrambled eggs (made with cream and butter), bacon (put 2-3 lbs in a deep pot on low, then higher at the end; it’s easier than frying it a strip-at-a-time), steak (on the grill), ham steaks or sirloin steaks, melon and strawberries, and OJ & champagne 😉
Full (triple) batch
- 11 C flour
- 2 t salt
- 3/4 C sugar (I always go heavy on the sugar!)
- 3 cakes of yeast (Mom always used cake yeast, near the yogurt at the grocer’s, but dry packaged works fine)
- 1.5 C warm water (100-110 F; lower than 120 F; slightly warm to the touch)
- 7 eggs (large is fine)
- 1.5 C milk
- 3 T melted butter (margarine works)
- 2 T rum (a shot, if you prefer 😉
Typical (single) batch
- 4 C flour
- 2/3 t salt
- 1/4 C sugar (I always go heavy on the sugar!)
- 1 cake of yeast (Mom always used cake yeast, near the yogurt at the grocer’s, but dry packaged works fine)
- 1/2 C warm water (100-110 F; lower than 120 F; slightly warm to the touch)
- 2 eggs (large is fine)
- 1/2 C milk
- 1 T melted butter (margarine works)
- 2 T rum (a shot, if you prefer 😉 NOTE: I didn’t scale the rum; like the sugar, a little more makes it taste better to me 😉
- oil (a cup does fine, for ‘wetting’ your hands, the bowl, and the baking sheet; use corn or other ‘flavorless’ variety)
- 1-2 eggs (for egg wash)
- 2-4 T water (for egg wash)
- jimmies (sprinkles) or colored sugar – Easter colors (yellow, pink, light green, etc.)
- boiled and dyed (food-safe) eggs
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- 2 t butter (sliver it while it’s cold, VERY thin, so it will blend in, but not require melting)
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 oz rum or whiskey (as above, *ligth* rum works best)
- water, as needed (cold. use milk if cookies will be eaten within a few weeks, use water if freezing, to avoid ‘stale’ aftertaste)
- jimmies (sprinkles) (or granulated colored sugar, which I like but my mother says is rough on people with dental work!)
- mixer with dough hook
- baking sheet
Dissolve yeast in the warm water; add a pinch of sugar to kick-start (bloom) the yeast.
Mix the dry ingredients together; mix the wet.
Mix the two together, and knead until a ball (a little sticky is expected).
Flatten out a little, and put in an oiled bowl or on an oiled baking sheet to rise (wait for it to double – my recipe says 4 hours, but it rarely takes that long, more like 1-2; note – it’s SLOW).
Punch it down and knead it again. Split into groups and roll out; braid as desired. You can braid the dough around the boiled eggs if you like, or just sit the eggs in a gulley in the braid, and hold in place with thin strips in an “X”. Make sure there’s some dough under the boiled eggs, so they don’t touch the baking sheet directly.
Let rise again, until double (1-2 hours).
Brush with egg wash just before baking. The egg wash is just an egg (or two) and a little extra water (1-2 T per egg), heavily beaten.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until golden.
When cool, ice as desired (same as for the Italian Wedding cookies), drizzle over top, or spread on the ‘knobs’ of the braid. Add jimmies (sprinkles) if desired.
To make the icing:
Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Add water/milk **slowly* until a thick paste forms. Add vanilla and rum. Blend in butter slivers. Add more liquid until icing is ‘spreadable’ – NOT runny, but more like thick jam.
Stays fine if covered (with a bowl or tea towel) after the glaze dries a bit. It might last up to a week, but we usually eat it before then.