Russian Easter Bread

Today, I had what can safely be called a triumph in baking. Adele is miles away in Queensland and I longed to be able to share such a triumph with her but alas the best I could so was send her a photo. It was one of those baking moments where everything just falls into place.

Today, I experienced the birth of what can only be called a tradition. I know this because I will cook this particular thing again and again in years to come. I could feel it as it was happening. This is not the last time I’ll make this dish. Let me show you. The photo speaks for itself.

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I found a recipe last week for Russian Easter Bread. It’s also known as Greek Easter Bread. There are so many variations on the basic concept it’s hard to tell where it comes from but many cultures seem to make a rich, buttery sweet bread, stick coloured eggs in it and end up with something as rich and vibrant as this. I am an instant convert. It may well be traditionally Greek, but as a former student of the Russian language, I’m going to call this bread Russian like the recipe I used. It appeals to me.

I’ve long wanted to make braided bread. I’ve made bread on and off for about five years and this is the first time I’ve gone for a real shape and I have to say it’s great fun. I don’t know why I thought it would be hard. It wasn’t. Everything happened just as it ought to with this recipe. Just the right amount of rising in the dough; everything as puffy and soft as it ought to be. And the end result was a beautiful loaf of bread, in the shape of a braid.

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Dyeing the eggs was fun. I did a bit of reading beforehand, and didn’t do it the way this recipe said to because I had other ideas. After some reading, here’s what I did. I use Wilton’s Paste.

I boiled the eggs for 8mins, starting in cold water.

I filled a small bowl with about 250ml of boiled water.

I began adding Christmas Red paste in small amounts, stirring until I got a colour I was happy with – about 1tsp in all. I added about 1/8 cup of vinegar.

I added the freshly boiled eggs to the water, and left them for about 10 mins. I lifted them from time to time, turning them to make sure they got good coverage.

After they were done, I drained them on a rack over paper towel, then rubbed olive oil on them with paper towel to get that nice sheen.

When the braided loaf had had its second rise, I added in the red eggs and baked for 25mins. By 10:30am we had Easter morning bread, spread with lashings of butter.

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I loved this recipe. Because of the moderate butter, egg and sugar content, it came out like brioche. Buttery, delicate and so tasty without being overly rich. Simple and delicious. I can’t imagine Easter from now on without it.

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I love it when baking works so well. It made me feel awfully clever and very happy. Now we just have to eat it all! It won’t be a trial.

Bells

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. RoseRed
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 20:35:22

    So cool! I love the idea of braided bread, I will have to give it a whirl! It just looks so so good.

    Reply

  2. Caveat Calcei
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 20:55:58

    Oh yum – that looks divine. When I saw the pictures I wondered if it tasted a bit like challah but I forgot that you don’t use eggs for that.

    Either way it looks amazing Helen. Yum again.

    Reply

  3. drkknits
    Apr 24, 2011 @ 21:33:38

    ah yum! and so pretty! what a great new tradition.

    Reply

  4. Adele
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 20:05:36

    Oh my! How good is that bread. I absolutely want to try that. Not sure I can wait until next Easter though. I have some lovely bread flour. I think I will have to do it soon.

    You are so very clever. It looks so impressive. Well done you!

    Reply

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