This is one of our family's favorite recipes. It wouldn't be Easter without sweet bread to dip into coffee first thing Easter morning and stirred into chamomile last thing on Easter night.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup warm water, about 110 F
- 1 envelope yeast (2½ teapoons)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 4½-5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 hard-boiled eggs (optional)
- multi-colored sprinkles
- 1 egg, beaten with a little bit of water to make an egg wash
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter together just until the butter melts; set aside to cool.2.
Add 1 tablespoon of 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 stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a handheld whisk, mix together the eggs and remaining sugar until combined. Add the butter and milk mixture, the yeast and water mixture, the vanilla and orange zest, and mix everything together so all the wet ingredients are well-combined.4.
Switch the attachment to a dough hook and add in 4½ cups of the flour and the salt; mix until it forms a soft dough. Gradually add a little more flour (1/2 to 1 cup) to make a nice and smooth but slightly sticky dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until double its volume.5.
Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.6.
Once the dough has risen properly, dump onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down and cut into 4 equal pieces.7.
Roll each piece into a rope about 22 inches long. Lay 2 ropes at a time side-by-side in front of you, and loosely braid them together.8.
Lift the braid onto the prepared baking sheet and pinch the ends to seal so you have a circle. Place 3 eggs in each circle, lengthwise, tucking them between the ropes.9.
Repeat the same process with the other 2 ropes, then cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes.10.
Preheat oven to 350 F.11.
Brush the tops with the egg wash and top with sprinkles. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden, making sure to rotate the baking sheets halfway through for even baking. Let them cool completely, then slice and serve.