Easter Sweet Bread
“One evening, Monsignor Hellriegel was describing the finding of the “Alleluia” egg in his family. The story was becoming more and more dramatic as his ten brothers and sisters were closing in on the hunt. Finally, by sheer good luck, he spied the gleam of gilt and he knew the prize was his. A little boy in the audience had been jumping to his feet as the story progressed. Now his hand was waving. He would have the floor. “Please, Father”, he interrupted, “and what was the prize?” That was the important point for a little boy and Monsignor had failed to describe the prize. All of the eloquence now went into the description. The prize was a luscious German sweet cake, large enough to last any little boy a week or more. It was covered with cinnamon and sugar and nuts, and the center sometimes had stollen filling. Your egg hunt will be full of enthusiasm if you bake an Easter sweet bread for the prize.”
Easter Sweet Bread Recipe
2 packages dry yeast
1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar and extra for sprinkling
1 cup lukewarm water
6 tbsp unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
3 egg yolks
1⁄2 tsp salt
6 to 7 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
Raisins, as desired
Ground cinnamon, as desired
Chopped walnuts or pecans, as desired
1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp milk
Confectioner’s sugar icing
Icing for Bread
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tbsp milk, or more as needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in the lukewarm water. Cream the butter with the 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg yolks. When yeast mixture bubbles, stir it in. Add salt. Mix in the flour alternating with the milk in three portions; the dough will be soft.
Place on a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise until doubled.
Roll out the dough into an oblong strip 1⁄4 inch thick. Brush with the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and nuts. Roll up lengthwise, and shape into a circle. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, and place the circle on it.
Using scissors, snip into the dough almost all the way through sections about 3⁄4 inch apart. Gently twist each section so that the spiral filling shows and points away from the middle. Cover and let the bread rise again until double in bulk. Brush with the beaten egg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it turns golden. Remove from the oven, and while still hot, frost with confectioner’s sugar icing and sprinkle with additional nuts.
The Cooking for Christ cookbook is faithful to the liturgical year and celebrates food, family and faith. You can purchase a copy of the cookbook here.