Our beautiful Easter centerpiece bread offers a healthier take on the classic egg- and butter-enriched bread. It’s made completely with white whole-wheat flour and less added sugar (in this case, honey) than many traditional recipes. Our techniques and ingredient choices leave you with a soft, fluffy, lightly sweet bread that’ll garner raves: The soaking step at the beginning allows the dense flour to hydrate more fully, resulting in a more tender bread, and the vital wheat gluten—which you’ll find near the yeast and flour in well-stocked supermarkets—aids in tenderness as well. The colored eggs are decorative, though you could eat them if you’d like (they’ll be overcooked). If they discolor from baking, simply twist to remove them, and replace with more vibrant eggs. The finished bread is gloriously large and serves a crowd. If you have leftovers, try slicing and toasting for breakfast—or using for French toast or bread pudding.
27 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 6 cups), divided
1 cup whole milk, warmed
3/4 cup room-temperature water
1/3 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (from 2 packets)
1/3 cup honey, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons firmly packed orange zest
4 large raw eggs, divided
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3-4 dyed hard-cooked large eggs
1 tablespoon room-temperature water
Est. added sugars 5g
Calcium 5% DV
Potassium 1% DV
How to Make It
Combine half of flour, warm milk, and 3/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer, stirring well. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to hydrate.
Place 1/3 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Stir in yeast and 1 tablespoon honey. Let stand 10 minutes or until very bubbly.
Stir remaining honey, butter, orange zest, and 3 raw eggs into hydrated flour mixture; stir in yeast mixture. Combine remaining flour, vital wheat gluten, salt, and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture; mix on low speed with dough hook until just combined. Mix on medium-low speed 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic/stretchy.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°F to 95°F), free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (If your oven has a proofing setting, use it for the dough. Or place a bowl of just-boiled water in the oven with the dough as it proofs, with the oven light on, too.)
Uncover dough; punch dough down. Divide into 3 equal portions, and shape each into a 28-inch rope. Pinch one end of dough ropes together, and braid dough ropes to the other end. Bring ends together to form a ring; pinch ends together to seal. Tuck dyed eggs into braids, evenly spaced apart. Carefully arrange dough ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°F to 95°F), free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover dough. Lightly beat remaining 1 raw egg with 1 tablespoon water until well blended. Gently brush egg mixture over dough. Bake at 350°F until well browned and dough sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Cool before slicing.
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