A few years ago I baked an Italian Easter Bread with encased eggs. It was a real success and instead of making plain bread I made it more like a sweet brioche consistency with butter and eggs.
This time I have made something similar but individual little nests with coloured eggs, very festive and cute! If you wrap them up nicely in a clear bag with a nice ribbon they would make a nice gift for Easter.
I have tried making them with chocolate eggs as well. I chose eggs with a sugary coating so that the chocolate inside would not melt during cooking, although for some of them the sugary coating cracked but they were perfectly edible and pretty anyway. You need to make sure you press them well into the dough to avoid them falling off during cooking.
You can also make them with hard boiled eggs and if you like you can colour the eggs naturally. I coloured mine with beetroot. I cooked raw beetroot for about one hour in water (and then I had it for lunch), I kept the cooking water and added 2 tbsp of vinegar (it helps setting the colour). I hard boiled the eggs and then dipped them into the liquid and left them there overnight. Their shell turned red in colour; Then I left them out to dry on a plate.
You can do the same using turmeric for yellow, spinach water for green and red cabbage for blue. For pastel coloured eggs use eggs with a white shell (I used ordinary brown egg shells). After the bread is cooked you can polish the egg shells with a little oil for a shiny effect!
This brioche bread is quite low in sugar which makes it OK as a savoury or as a sweet treat. In Italy it is very popular, the bread is eaten at Easter with the hard boiled egg and possibly with a slice of salami or two.
Eggs will almost always be present on the Easter table as they signify a new life. For Christians the egg is a symbol of resurrection, as when they are cracked open they represent the empty tomb of Jesus.
I so much enjoyed making these!
- Prep Time : 45 minutes
- Cook Time : 20 minutes
- Yield : 10
- plain flour + extra to sprinkle - 500 g - 5 cups
- butter - 100 g - 1/2 cup
- dry yeast for bread making - 1 sachet
- eggs - 4
- sugar - 90 g - 3/8 cup
- milk - 60 ml - 2 ¼ fluid oz + extra to brush
- salt - pinch
- vanilla essence - 1 tsp
- lemon zest organic or unwaxed - 1
- sugar coated mini eggs or fresh hard boiled eggs - 30 mini cioccolate eggs or 10 hard boiled eggs
- coloured sugar sprinkles
Make the dough by mixing the flour with the eggs, yeast, sugar, vanilla essence, lemon zest, salt, lukewarm milk and softened butter.
Work with your hands (or use a processor) for 10 minutes until you get a smooth consistency. The dough should not be sticky, if it is add a little more flour and knead again.
Form a ball and let it rest in a warm place covered by a cloth or cling film for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and work it again with your hands for a couple of minutes. Cut the pastry into 10 pieces, cut each piece in half and roll them out with the palms of your hands to form cylinders about 22 cm or 9 inches long.
Pinch one end and twist two cylinders together then join the ends to form a ring leaving a small opening in the middle.
Place 3 chocolate eggs on each ring. Make sure you press them well into the dough.
Let them rest for another hour in a warm place covered with a cloth.
You can also do the same using coloured hard boiled eggs and place one egg inside the ring. If you like you can make braids instead using 3 cylinders of pastry instead of 2.
Brush them with milk and sprinkle them with coloured sugary sprinkles.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden at 180C or 350F.
Check out my Italian Easter bread with herbs too!