Happy Easter everyone!
This year I wanted to do something a little different from the rather ubiquitous brunch muffins and fritattas (though I did those, too) and make a real show-stopper. I rather think that I did an excellent job with it, too. But let me stop patting myself on the back long enough to tell you how I did it.
The idea for this bread started when I saw Paul Hollywood do a similar braid with colored eggs in it. I believe that it had some sort of flavoring in the rich dough, though, and I wanted to go for something sweet, something like challah. Instead of falling back to my usual challah recipe, I did a quick search and came upon this recipe for a braided Easter bread at Allrecipes.com. By combining the shape of Paul’s bread with the basic recipe from the other bread, I think I reached an excellent balance – not to mention a gorgeous-looking loaf.
The dough was very easy to handle, though it did take quite some time to rise, as many rich doughs do. While the dough was rising the first time, I dyed a few eggs. I used raw eggs, as they will cook in the oven, and food coloring as a dye. The recipe for dye is simple: 1 tbsp white vinegar, 1/2 cup water and as much food coloring as you want. I tried to go for bright colors and used loads of coloring. After the eggs had been in the dye for about 5 minutes, I took them out and patted them dry. The eggs were inserted gently into the dough after it had been shaped and had risen a second time. I brushed the dough with an egg wash and popped it into the oven.
The bread tastes like a sweet challah, a eggy and a little buttery, with a very soft and light texture. It is not a traditional Challah, as it uses milk and butter (and most challah recipes are nondairy), but it is absolutely delicious. It is also perfect with butter and jam or with a large brunch. The leftovers (minus the decorated eggs on top, of course) make great toast or french toast. If you have any leftovers, that is.
Braided Easter Egg Challah
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk, warm, 110F (low fat is fine)
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, very soft
3 raw eggs, dyed (as above) if desired
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast and milk and mix to combine. Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure that the first one is well incorporated before you add the second. Add butter, but into small pieces, and beat until completely absorbed. Add remaining flour 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough pulls easily away from the side of the bowl.
Knead dough lightly for about 3 minutes on a lightly floured surface until it is very elastic, then place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Gently deflate dough into a rectangle and divide it, lengthwise, into three equal pieces. Roll out until pieces are about 16-inches long. Braid together, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet (I used a silpat) and cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise for 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place three raw, dyed eggs gently into dough and brush the loaf with the egg wash.
Bake for 36-40 minutes, until rich golden brown.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Makes 1 loaf.
Note: All my eggs were at room temperature when I started. The cooked eggs are safe to eat, so go for it if hard-eggs are your thing!
CindyApril 16, 2006
Beautiful looking !
CameraDawktorApril 16, 2006
That is such a cool idea, never seen anything like it before. I’ll have to try it sometime, well, I guess next Easter!
IvonneApril 16, 2006
lauraApril 16, 2006
This is a “twist” (no pun intended) on the traditional Greek Easter bread called tsoureki paschalino!
Usually tsoureki is braided into a circle (often baked in a bundt pan) and garnished with blood-red hard boiled eggs. The braid represents the trinity, that it is in a circle represents both a crown (Christ, the King) and perfection, and the red eggs represent Christ’s blood.
It looks as if you have tapped into the collective unconscious for this recipe! 🙂
CathyApril 16, 2006
That’s a beautiful loaf Nic! Happy Easter!
valentinaApril 17, 2006
Nic, I had seen this bread at All Recipes.The visual is stunning,isnt’it?!How lovely that you made it.As usual coming here is so great.
JaniceApril 17, 2006
What a neat idea! I’ve never made challah, but now I want to try.
Baking SodaApril 18, 2006
I love challah, this year I made a moroccan purim bread from Maggie Glezer’s “A blessing of Bread”, but I should have used coloured eggs instead. Am I right that the eggs on top were raw?
tyttyApril 18, 2006
missyApril 19, 2006
Hi Nic, I recently got Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads and I have a question for you, if you don’t mind. In the book, Paul says not to allow direct contact between the yeast and the salt, but yet in his recipes, he mixes them together. The recipes you’ve tried out look very successful, so maybe could you shed light on this? Thanks!
NicApril 19, 2006
Hi Missy. By “direct contact” he means not to put the salt on top of the yeast. It is still ok to have then mixed in the dough together.
LoriApril 19, 2006
Nic, you truly deserve those pats on the back. It’s a lovely bread.
HallieMarch 19, 2008
I stumbled upon this and was very interested. It looks great, but I find it a bit weird that people have used a very traditional Jewish recipe for Challah and added easter eggs to it (a Christian holiday.)
SandyMarch 19, 2008
I find this offensive, when I saw the picture I was quite disturbed. Challah is Jewish and to use it in the attempt to ‘celebrate’ a christian holiday is a violation of Halakha. This is sacrilegious. Please take it down.
SummerMarch 21, 2008
This isn’t first time that I have heard about people being upset about an egg bread recipe being used to celebrate Easter. There are more important issues in the world than what time a recipe should be prepared by people who are not affected by the religious restrictions of another religion.
SarahMarch 22, 2008
I loved the recipe. I think it is beautiful. I like that you have taken two traditions and put them together. I also love that this bread is causing such a stir.
AlanAugust 21, 2008
Quite familiar with the recipe but I don’t like that you call it challah, let me explain. Challah is never made with milk nor butter. According to Jewish Law, we are not permitted to make dairy bread and one reason is so that there is no confusion upon eating the bread at a possible meat meal. Those observant of Hebrew Dietary Laws (kosher) know that it is prohibited to eat dairy products with meat products.
Easter Egg HunterNovember 8, 2008
I love the look of that bread. It really “feels” like Easter.
pene grandesNovember 20, 2008
me like THAT!:)
liebenMarch 3, 2009
Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.April 7, 2009
The link to the “usual challah recipe” doesn’t work.
This one looks absolutely amazing.
Life in AsiaMarch 3, 2010
The pictures look colorful. Will give this a try.
CherryblossomsApril 1, 2010
I was raised with this as an Easter tradition in Southern Germany. Thanks for digging up the recipe!
LoriMarch 25, 2016
I have been making this bread now for several years and it has become an Easter tradition in my household, thanks to this page. My friends and family absolutely love the look and taste of it. My mom encourages me to add golden raisins to the recipe for an authentic Polish taste… but I haven’t done that yet. And it does make for excellent French toast the following morning! Thank you again for this recipe. And I know some folks were offended by it… I think I have bigger things to worry about than when I’m allowed to serve this bread.