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Alpine Easter Bread

Makes one 10-inch round loaf

 

Baked into a round loaf, this Easter bread is light, rich, and delicate. Egg breads are often associated with spring and rebirth. The round shape represents the sun and the rhythm of the seasons. The aroma of this loaf is so intoxicating that legend says it has healing powers.

 

1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees F.)
1-1/2 tablespoons (1-1/2 packages) active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
   or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Nut Liqueur Glaze
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 to 3 tablespoons nut liqueur,
   such as Pistacha, Amaretto, Frangelico, or Nocino
10 whole toasted, chocolate-coated
   or silver-coated almonds, for garnish.

 

1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and butter. Heat until the butter is melted. Let cool to 105 degrees to 115 degrees F., about 20 minutes.

2. Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl using a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour, the remaining sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Add the yeast and milk mixtures, eggs, and extracts. Beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, on low speed until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if mixing by hand.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough is soft and springy, about 3 minutes, dusting with flour only I tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. The dough should not be dry.

If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.

5. Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Do not rush this dough, as the full rising time is important to develop flavor and texture.

6. Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a smooth, round loaf. Grease a 10-inch springform pan or a 10-inch round cake pan 4 inches deep. Place the dough in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until brown and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Transfer the loaf from the pan to a cooling rack. Place the rack over a plate or a sheet of wax paper to catch the drips.

8. To prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding hot water a few drops at a time as needed. Drizzle the glaze over the warm loaf, letting it drip down the sides. Stud the outer edge with whole almonds, if desired. The glaze will set as the loaf cools.

 

The Bread Bible
By Beth Hensperger
Chronicle Books
Hardbound, $32.50
528 pages, 30 illustrations
ISBN: 0-8118-1686-9
Information provided by the publisher.

 

The Bread Bible

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This page created March 1999


 


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