It’s funny how all my life people have been telling me I had no sense for writing. Today I write a blog. And blogging mostly is about writing. Or I might just be writing some nonsense that no one is reading… That’s fine too. At least I’m leaving traces behind me. One way or another, it’s true, the words don’t get here out of nowhere. Usually it’s the image that inspires me to write something down. A brief episode. A distant memory. A life worth living.
As I was looking at this photo it made me think of my grandparent’s Easter bread. My grandparents actually owned a bakery. And the most important thing for them was quality and good ingredients. You can’t make good bread out of nothing. True.
Flour has changed. Food has changed. Gluten is an issue, lactose is an issue, sugar is an issue. And probably, we have changed too.
I set off my blog as something to reinvent traditional recipes. But Easter time is special. And I’m saying this without any religious intentions. I don’t see all my family as often as I would like to, so I love it when we all gather at least for Christmas and Easter. I respect this family tradition and I recpect traditional recipes that go along it. It’s all about gathering, sharing and enjoing the moment. And so is bread.
My Easter braid variations:
- Easter braid with tarragon
- Easter braid with tarragon, lemon and ricotta
- Wholegrain braid with sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs and feta
Basic recipe for Easter braid
- 500 g wheat flour T400
- 60 g sugar*
- 1 tsp salt
- 30 g fresh yeast
- 80 g softened butter
- 1,8 – 2,2 dl warm milk*
- 1 egg + 3 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp rum
- peel of 1 organic lemon
- egg yolk + 2 Tbsp of milk for brushing
* I used 40 g of honey instead and it was sweet enough. The quantity of milk depends largley on the quality of the flour. Plus if using honey, you will need a bit less liquid. Add gradually! Also, you can replace flour with another one, like spelt or wholegrain, but do use at least one half of flour T400.
- Mix fresh yeast, 50 ml warm milk and one tablespoon of honey. Let double in volume.
- In a big bowl combine the two flours and salt.
- In a seperate bowl mix softened butter using a hand mixer. Gradually add eggs, rum and lemon peel.
- Mix the rest of the milk and the rest of the honey so it dissolves evenly.
- Add yeast and egg mixture to the flours. Add milk gradually, not all at once. Mix with wooden spatula. When the ingredients start to combine, start kneading. Flour the working surface. It takes something like 8 – 10 mins for gluten to activate, so you’ll be probably kneading for about 10 mins. The dough should be firm and silky.
- Let rise. When doubled in volume, divide in three equal parts and knead once more. Make three rolls and braid. Let rise once again.
- Before baking, brush with mixture of egg yolk and two tablespoons of milk.
- Preheat oven at 200°c and place in a baking tray filled with water to create steam. Bake for 10 mins, than lover the temperature to 180°c and bake for another 15 – 20 mins.