This sweet bread recipe has always been a favorite in my family and is traditionally made each year for Easter. The recipe comes from my Zia Elsa who absolutely mastered just the right technique to produce the best most beautiful bread year after year. She used to put colored Easter eggs in between the braided dough to make it festive, but we stopped doing that years ago. The bread around the egg never cooked properly and it just didn’t seem worth it. Now every piece cooks perfectly and we enjoy the entire sweet bread. Her recipe called for a tablespoon of annisette but no one in our family likes that flavor so we substituted it with whiskey! My nonna put a shot of whiskey in most baked good that she made so you know it’s ok. Of course you can always use vanilla extract if that’s what you have on hand. One thing to keep in mind when making this bread is that the amount of flour used will vary. You may need a little more or less each time you make it depending on anything from altitude to the weather. One of these days I have to ask my cousin Kim in Colorado what kind of effect the altitude has on her baking. Either way you need to get a feel for the dough. This dough should be soft, smooth and manageable.
Check out Easter Sweets for the story.
- 4-5 cups unsifted flour
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp whiskey
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp butter to melt and brush on formed bread
- 1 cup of confectioners sugar to make frosting
- In a large bowl mix 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt and undissolved active yeast thoroughly.
- Combine water, milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat until liquids are warm (butter doesn’t need to be completely melted).
- Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add eggs, nutmeg, whiskey and 1 cup of flour or enough flour to make the batter thick then beat at high speed for 2 minutes.
- Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. I usually start with 4 cups and only add as much of the 5th cup as is necessary.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface.
- Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic.
- Place dough into a greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm space until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
- Punch dough down and then turn out onto lightly floured work surface.
- Divide into 2 equal pieces then roll each piece into a 24 inch rope. Twist the 2 ropes of dough together loosely and form into a ring on a greased baking sheet.
- Melt the additional butter and brush it onto the surface of your formed dough. Then cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk (about 1 hour).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack or board to cool. The time will vary depending on your oven so check before 30 minutes has elapsed. Top of the bread will be a golden color. The bottom will be only slightly colored.
- To make frosting and a little bit of water to the confectioners sugar and stir until thick frosting is formed. Start with a teaspoon and add as needed from there.
- Drizzle frosting over the bread with a spoon or by putting the frosting into a plastic baggie and snipping the corner of the bag and using it as a piping bag.