Altomonte’s Italian Sweet Easter Bread (makes 2 loaves). Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!
½ cup olive oil
½ cup of Milk
1 Envelope of Yeast (2 ½ tsp)
½ cup of Warm Water, about 110 degrees
3 Eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup of Sugar
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lemon Extract
1 tsp Mille Fiore essence
1 Tbsp of Orange Zest
4 ½ to 5 cups of All Purpose Flour
1 tsp of Salt
6 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 Egg, beaten with a little bit of water to make an egg wash
1) In a small saucepan mix the milk and oil together just until warm to the touch.
2) Add 1 Tbsp of the sugar to the warm water and stir to mix, then sprinkle the yeast over top of the warm sugar and water and set aside for about 5 minutes.
3) In the bowl of a standing mixer with a hand held whisk, mix together the eggs and sugar until combined, add the oil and milk mixture, the yeast and water mixture, the extracts and orange zest, mix everything together so you have all the wet ingredients well combined.
4) Switch the attachment to a dough hook and add in 4/12 cups of the flour and the salt, mix until a soft dough forms. Gradually add a little more flour (1/4 to ½ cup ) to make a nice smooth but slightly sticky dough.
5) Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes or until it’s very smooth. Shape dough into a ball.
6) Lightly grease a large bowl with some oil, place the ball of dough in the oiled bowl and brush a tiny bit of oil over the top as well. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot and let it rise for about 1-1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
7) Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and brush them lightly with oil, set aside.
8) Once the dough has risen properly, dump onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down and cut into 4 equal pieces.
9) Roll each piece into a rope about 24 inches long. Lay 2 ropes at a time side by side in front of you loosely braid them together.
10) Lift the braid onto the prepared baking sheet and pinch the ends to seal so now you have a circle. Place 2-3 eggs in each circle lengthwise, tucking them between the ropes.
11) Repeat process with the other 2 ropes.
12) Cover with plastic wrap and place them somewhere warm for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
13) Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle over some sprinkles if you like, bake them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden on tops and bottom, making sure to rotate the baking sheets half-way through for even baking.
14) Let them cool completely and then slice and serve.