Easter season brings so many beautiful natural colors… and yet so many Easter egg breads feature wildly artificial colors. So for something a little bit different, we decided to make an herbed Easter egg bread that features only natural colors.
This bread is based on a challah recipe from an old Fleischman’s yeast cookbook… We’ve modified it in parts to make it more Easter-y, with eggs and a braided twist.
Herbed Easter Egg Bread
This round braided bread is a savory Easter egg bread, featuring colors found in nature.
- 6 eggs (to be hard boiled)
- 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour divided
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 package active dry yeast (equal to 2 1/4 tsp)
- 1/3 cup butter softened
- 1 cup very warm water (120-130 degrees)
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp cold water
- 1/3 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (thyme, dill, oregano, etc.)
Hard-boil the six eggs, rinse, and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast. Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the dry ingredient mixture. Gradually add the warm water to the dry ingredients and beat for two minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add three of the eggs plus one egg while (reserve the yolk for later), and 1/2 cup additional flour. Beat at medium speed for two minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl (we coat ours with olive oil) and turn the dough so that all sides are greased. Cover, put in a warm place free from drafts, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and bring it back to the floured board. Cut it into three even pieces. Twist and stretch the dough into three ropes of equal width and length, approximately two inches wide by 18 inches long. Holding the ends of the three strands, braid the strands into one long braid (To braid: take the right strand and move it over the middle strand to become the new middle strand. Then take the left strand and move it over the middle strand to become the new middle strand. Repeat until the braid is complete.) Curl the braid into a ring and carefully seal the edges together.
Combine the remaining egg yolk with one teaspoon of water and brush the mixture all over the bread. Place the bread on a greased baking sheet and set in a warm place, free from drafts, to rise again. Let the bread rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Finally, set the hard-boiled eggs into crevices in the bread, pressing down gently to secure the position. Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy on the outside. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Have you braided bread before? It’s just like braiding hair, only easier. Take three strands of dough and just keep moving alternate outside strands into the middle (outer right becomes the middle strand, then outer left becomes the middle strand, and repeat).
We weren’t sure what kind of eggs we were going to use, until we went to the farmers’ market and just happened to come across a vendor who had been selling eggs, but who only had one dozen eggs left. We peeked into the carton and – bingo! – the most beautiful array of natural colors you’ve ever seen, from tan to green to slightly pink-ish. We knew right away that these eggs were destined to go in our bread.
Also, we’ve read some conflicting information about whether you need to hard-boil the eggs before baking them in the bread or not… We decided to be extra-sure about it, so we hard-boiled them first and they were fine. But if you’ve ever tried this with uncooked eggs, we’d be curious to hear about it too.
Bonus: You could potentially make this herbed bread throughout the spring and summer, with or without eggs.
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