The Spring weather is now here, flowers are starting to peek through and the sun is finally starting to shine again! As Easter is fast approaching, the first thing (besides springtime) I think of is my grandmother’s sweet Easter bread. I could count on her making this Portuguese treat every single year for me growing up, but lately it has become a bit too much work for her. So to keep the tradition, my grandmother instead has been buying hers from a local Portuguese baker, but it’s never the same as your own. I’ve always been eager to learn how to make this sweet Easter bread, as it had always been one of my favourites. I figured if I was able to master the recipe then maybe one day I could make it authentic, just like grandma used to make!
I was over at my grandmother’s last week and asked her for the recipe. Unfortunately for me, she was moving soon and had just thrown it out while she was de-cluttering her home! I will admit that I was a bit upset when I found out she had thrown out all of her traditional recipes, which I would have loved to keep. But the reality of her aging means she had lost most of her interest in cooking, as it becomes more difficult for her. Lucky for me I still have her, and at least we can still hold on to our traditions together! Plus I knew the internet could help us, so I found this recipe and gave it a go!
The bread turned out perfectly on the first try, and actually tasted quite similar to my grandma’s! I was very happy with the results and now I know I can keep the tradition alive for years to come.
If you enjoy the sweetness of Easter bread, try this recipe and don’t be shy about adding some butter on it. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Easter with favourite traditions or maybe even new ones!
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- 1 cup (250ml) warm water, divided
- 1 tablespoon (11g) active dry yeast
- ¾ cup (170g) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 750g (about 5½ cups) all purpose flour (may need additional while kneading, about ¼ cup)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4oz or 114g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¾ teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg (for egg wash later)
- ½ tablespoon water
- 4 Large hard-boiled eggs (coloured if desired)
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and ¼ warm water. Slowly add 1 tablespoon dry yeast over the mixture. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, and cubed butter. Mix on low speed to combine. Add in the 4 eggs, sugar, remaining ¾ cup warm water, lemon extract, and yeast mixture. Mix on low speed to combine. Mixture will be slightly wet. Switch to dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. You may need to add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time during mixing if the dough feels too wet. You want to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, and tacky but not sticky.
- Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil. Shape dough into a ball, put into the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draught free area for about 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
- Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush an upside down baking sheet with butter or oil. Reserve a small amount of dough, about ½ cup, to make cross decoration. Knead the remaining dough a few times to get the air out. Shape into a circle and gently press the unpeeled hardboiled eggs into the dough. Create 2 long, flat pieces of dough to place over or beside the eggs, and press the ends into the round dough to create a cross.
- Whisk together 1 large egg and water. Brush the entire top of the dough with the egg wash.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and there is a hollow sound when tapped. Set aside to cool.