Italian Easter Bread

½ cup unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon, divided
1 ¼ cup milk
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup simple syrup*see Cook's note
Nonpareil sprinkles
6 large eggs, uncooked and colored

Combine milk and 1/2 cup of butter in saucepan over low and cook until butter melts.  Pour butter mixture into bowl of stand mixer.  

Allow mixture to cool to 110°-120° degrees.  Add yeast and sugar.  Stir to combine.  Allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes so yeast can bloom.

Meanwhile: Beat 2 eggs and set aside. In a separate bowl beat the remaining egg and add 1 tablespoon water and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Add 2 beaten eggs, vanilla extract and 2 cups of flour.  Combine with the dough hook attachment.  Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough is not sticky anymore. I use the full 4 cups.  Knead bread dough until smooth with the dough hook, about 5 minutes.  

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until you have a smooth ball.  Place 1 tablespoon butter in large glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.    Place dough in greased bowl and flip to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled (about 90 minutes). 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. 

Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 12-14 inches long and, taking two pieces, braid together, pinching the ends, and loop into a circle. 

Place circle on a parchment lined baking sheet and lightly cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 60 minutes).  

Preheat oven to 350°.

Brush each bread ring with egg wash and set dyed Easter egg in the center of the ring, gently pushing down to make an indentation in the bread.  Bake until golden brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.

Remove from pan and place on cooling rack.  Brush each Easter bread with simple syrup and sprinkle with Nonpareil sprinkles.  Serve and enjoy!

Cook's Note:  Simple Syrup can be made by combining 1 part sugar and 1 part water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until it comes to a boil and sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.   Store in refrigerator until ready to use (keeps for several days).

Recipe printed from http://TheSlowRoastedItalian.com/
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