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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2004

Italian Easter Egg Bread

Step 1:

2 packages active dry yeast activated in 1/2 cup warm water; let stand for at least 10 minutes;

Step 2:

2 cups sifted all-purpose unbleached flour blended into 1 1/2 cups warm water;

Step 3:

Combine activated yeast (Step 1) into blended flour and water (Step 2) and beat until smooth. Cover bowl and let this dough mixture rise and bubble at least 2 hours.

Step 4: Meanwhile:

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening, lemon juice, and lemon zest until fluffy; gradually add sugar and salt.

Step 5:

2 large eggs

1 egg white

Beat eggs until thick and piled softly. Add this beaten egg mixture to Step 4 in thirds and mix thoroughly. Add the yeast and flour mixture from Step 3 and beat well.

Step 6:

5 cups sifted flour

Gradually add flour to mixture in Step 5 and beat thoroughly. Create a soft dough. Knead dough lightly on floured kneading surface. Shape dough into a smooth ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, large enough to hold the ball of dough. Cover bowl and let dough double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Step 7:

5 colored eggs

Nonpareils decorations

2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons water or as needed

Punch risen ball of dough and divide into two equal parts; cover these two smaller balls of dough and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll the two balls of dough into 2 strands of about 36 inches each. Form a loosely braided ring leaving spaces for 5 colored eggs. Place the braid on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover loosely with a towel and let rise until doubled. Insert colored eggs in dough.

Bake the ring of dough in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. After the loaf has cooled, glace with icing made with confectioners' sugar and water. Sprinkle with colored sugar sprinkles (nonpareils).

Yield: one large ring or 18 to 20 slices

Source: Rome Marinelli

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