March 16, 2008

Dutch Easter Bread

With Easter right around the corner, I had to try a seasonal bread recipe. This is my first attempt with a true sweet yeast bread.

Dutch Easter Bread
1 large egg beaten with scalded-then-cooled milk to measure 1 1/3 cups
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest (I used orange peel, which I had on hand.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup mixed dried or candied fruit
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk

Icing and Decoration:
1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 2 to 3 Tbsp. milk and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
Additional fruits, if desired

Warm the egg under hot tap water and crack into a measuring cup. Heat the milk until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Add to egg, filling measuring cup to 1 1/3 cups. Pour mixture into warmed mixing bowl with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add butter, sugar, zest, salt, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Stir in fruit and almonds. Slowly add remaining bread flour and beat well. Knead until smooth and springy but still soft to the touch. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.

Lightly grease baking sheets. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface and divide into two. Shape each into a round loaf, and place smooth side up on the baking sheets. Cover and let rise 45 to 50 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350
ºF. Glaze loafs with egg mixture. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until loaves are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool loaves on wire rack.

Loaves can be frozen at this point for later use or frosted for immediate eating. Drizzle or spread glaze on loaves and sprinkle with fruits. (If bread has been frozen, let thaw at room temperature prior to frosting.)

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