Easter bread is also called "Monas de Pascua." The shape simulates a crown of thorns and has an egg placed in the center representing the rebirth of Christ. The bread has all-purpose flour, egg, butter, orange juice, and lemon zest. It requires dry yeast and sugar too. The bread is slightly sweet and very soft.
1teaspoonlemon zestcan be replaced with vanilla extract
In a container (preferably one with a lid) add 3 teaspoons of flour, and 2 teaspoons of sugar Mix and add 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (preferably 110F). Do not add hot water as it kills the yeast and won't rise. Close the container and let the yeast ferment for a while. Depending on the weather this copuldtake from 20 minutes up to an hour or more.
In a mixing bowl add the orange juice, the egg, the sugar, and the salt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the sifted flour to the wet mix and incorporate using your hands or a Danish dough whisk. Cover and let the dough rest for a few minutes.
Add the fermented yeast to the dough and transfer to the stand mixer or work with your hands. Add the butter in stages until all the butter is absorbed by the dough. When the dough has an elastic texture is ready.
Place the dough in a container and rub it with cooking oil. Place the lid and let the dough double in size. Punch the dough and work it for 20 minutes. The more you work it the softer the bread will be.
Form a cylinder and cut in four pieces. Then cut each piece again in half. Form balls and set aside.
For forming the wreaths cut one ball in half and extend with your hands. Twist the two pieces and form a circle with each. Add a second piece and wrap around. Repeat the process and place the bread in a tray. Let the bread rise again. make sure to cover it with a cloth.
Make an egg wash beating one egg and using it to paint each bread piece. Add colored sprinkles and insert a raw easter egg in the middle.
Set the oven to 350F and bake the bread for 15 minutes. The raw egg will cook at the same time as the bread.
Tips for best results when baking European Easter Bread
Use sifted all-purpose flour.
Ferment the yeast with lukewarm water, sugar, and flour.
Knead the dough minimum 20-40 minutes. The more you knead, the best the bread will become.
Use raw, decorated Easter eggs. Don't worry. Those will cook in the oven with the bread.
Use room temperature, eggs, and butter. That helps with better quality bread.
The leavening of the dough is essential. If the temperature is too cold or the dough isn't rising, place the dough in an airtight container with a lid and wrap it with a towel.
Boil water and add it to a pan. Put the dough inside the oven (do not turn it on). In the lower section of the oven, place the container with the boiling water. Close the oven and wait for the dough to double in size.
Bread is a labor of love, be patient. Enjoy the process, and it is very therapeutic.