General Easter Bread: How to Make a Sweet Treat for the Holiday
Bread holds an important status in society as it is has been served throughout history with almost every meal. It also holds an important significance in most religions including Christianity as it is part of the communion or flesh of Christ. Many Christian cultures celebrate their holidays with a special sort of bread and Easter is one of those holidays. Almost every culture and every family group has a traditional Easter Bread recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. The Easter bread celebrates the coming of spring and the resurrection of Jesus.
One tidbit of Easter folklore states that Easter Bread will not rise if you do not make it on Good Friday (Friday before Easter). In some traditions you will get a certain number of loaves if you make it on Good Friday (probably because the dough rose better) than you would on any other day.
In some traditions the Easter bread is braided sometimes with real eggs inserted into the braid. Other traditions dictate that a cross be cut into the top of the loaves in remembrance of the supreme sacrifice of God’s Son. In many traditions the bread is baked and brought to the church to be blessed before it is eaten by the family.
The following is a general Easter Bread Recipe, not too fancy but very tasty. Please follow the links after the recipe to see traditional Easter Breads made in other countries that are somewhat different. Whichever bread you plan to make, it will make a welcome addition to your Easter table.
General Easter Bread
This recipe has currents in it but you can use raisins or golden raisins instead, or you can omit them totally from the bread and still have a nice soft yellow bread that is slightly sweet to enjoy on Easter.
- 2 packages active dry yeast (do not use rapid-rise yeast)
- 2 cups lukewarm milk, scalded (see note at bottom of recipe on how to scald milk)
- 8 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup currants
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white + 1 tablespoon of water (glaze)
- Warm milk to lukewarm and dissolve yeast into milk.*
- Pour into a mixing bowl and with a mixer slowly add 3 cups of flour.
- In a small bowl combine egg yolks, sugar, butter, currants, vanilla, and salt.
- Add to dough in mixer and if the mixer will take it, combine.
- Use your hands if it is too heavy for the mixer.
- Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft and elastic dough.
- Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Set in a warm place to rise until double. (You can put in refrigerator overnight but make sure the dough has doubled when you take it out. If not let it rise at room temperature until double.)
- Punch dough down.
- Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead well, adding flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking.
- Divide dough into 2 sections.
- Lightly grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Form dough into loaf shape and place in pans.
- Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until double in size.
- Brush with the glaze.
- Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake 50 more minutes or until loaf sounds hollow with tapped underneath.
- Let cool ½ hour in pan then turn out onto a cooling rack.
* Be careful not to make milk too warm or you will kill the yeast and the bread will not rise. If you can comfortably insert your finger into the milk it should be okay.
NOTE: HOW TO SCALD MILK
- In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer over medium high heat and until tiny bubbles begin to form along the sides of the pan.
- If you put a metal spoon into the milk it should coat the spoon when you remove it.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool until lukewarm.
- A skin may form on top and along the edges of the pan. If it does just remove it and use the liquid portion of the scalded milk.