Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Bread via Taste of Home and Grandma Eichas

I blame Mandy.

She called and said, "When are you going to make Easter Bread? Because I need Easter Bread!"

I may have said something snarky like, "Great. Make some and bring it to me!"

To which she laughed.


So when I finished writing Sunday morning, and I'd gone to Palm Sunday Mass the evening before... I made the dough for Easter Bread. I don't put hard boiled eggs in mine because I don't like hard-boiled eggs. (stop gasping!!!) And if I had jelly beans, I'd have decorated with jelly beans, but I can't stop eating jelly beans when they're in the house.

And not those fancy weird-flavored jelly beans. Good old fashioned fruity... or spice, but never mixed.... jelly beans.  But enough of that, because you are going to love this recipe I took from "Taste of Home". 

Here it is, and it's not even hard. You really have no excuse, and the dough is amazing. Not that I know that personally, I heard it from a friend. :)

Also, I left out the cardamom, I didn't use hard-boiled eggs, although that's festive for Easter, and I didn't use any oil. I'm a butter gal. I did add one tablespoon of vanilla to the flour mix before adding the warm milk/butter to the dry ingredients.


1/2 cup sugar
2 packages yeast (I buy in bulk so I used two full tablespoons)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I use whole milk, I don't know if it matters if you've got 2%)
6 Tablespoons butter, cubed
4 eggs (3 for recipe, one for glazing)

Mix sugar, yeast, vanilla, salt and 2 cups of the flour.

Heat milk and butter to about 120° - 140° in small kettle (I love that word!) on stove.

Slowly add butter/milk to dry mix while blending.


Add  three eggs and remainder of flour and knead (either by hand or with handy-dandy dough hook) until dough is smooth, and elastic.

This is great dough, and might need to be tested at this point. Wait. Did I say that out loud???

Put dough into buttered/greased bowl. Flip the dough so surface is greased. Cover and set in warm spot for rising.

When dough has doubled in size, punch down.

Heat oven to 375° cut dough into three equal pieces.

With hands, roll dough into 24" long ropes.

Set on greased cookie sheet.

Braid, bringing outside ropes to inside, alternating sides. (Just like braiding hair, here's a great pic!)

Form braid into circle, pinch together.

Allow to rise about 15 - 20 minutes. Brush with beaten egg.


Frost, if desired, using plain white frosting.

2 cups powdered sugar
Enough milk to make glaze consistency.

Drizzle 1/2 onto warm bread. Let sit. Drizzle more onto bread. Drizzle as much as you want onto bread. :)

Oh my stars, it did not take those vultures long to dive in! I left half unfrosted because Jon cut sweets out for Lent, but Mom's home-made bread doesn't count, and this recipe made a great bread-and-butter treat, too.

A family history note: I took this recipe idea from Taste of Home, but it's virtually identical to the recipe Grandma Eichas (Ol' Dave's maternal grandmother, a great woman who emigrated at age 11 and crossed the Atlantic with her 13 year-old brother. Dad was in America, Mom refused to get on the boat. She stayed in Germany, and the two kids sailed on their own to Ellis Island. A young couple on board kept an eye on them. Today you get in trouble if your kid walks to the park alone. Sigh...)

Grandma's words were like this in her quaint and lyrical German accent: "Some say I brought recipes from Germany." She gives me a look that says otherwise. "I was eleven, what recipes did I know? No, it was when I was married with a farm and a job and I had to make do with what we had. There were no eggs through much of the Depression. We had chickens, yes, but no money for laying mash. And to make the cheese for the kuchen (using the dough recipe above for the base) I took the milk, clabbered it on the counter (soured it into curds) and then I hung it out in a cheesecloth bag, squeezing the water out of it. When it dried (and we had to wave flies off it in summer) I would mix in some sugar, an egg or two if we had extra, and maybe cream if needed until it was the right texture. And then I'd fill the kuchen with the cheese."

Grandma's recipe, made on her own with hit-and-miss for a young hard-working housewife who raised 11 children to adulthood... From her heart to ours.

Here's the carrot cake Xavier helped me make for Brody and Elijah's birthday:

It's for you, Grammy!!!  Oh, Finn.... :)


  1. I'm not judging but...

    OKAY. I'm judging. Mom didn't want to get on the boat? Hmmm.... Sending all the side eye her way even if I do let my kids walk to the park.

    Passing this recipe on to my bread-making child.

    1. Great Grandma NEVER came over. And another daughter, I think her name was Ann, stayed in Germany. I know, I'm like you, I'd have been on that boat.... or they'd all have stayed put! I've got family who split up to emigrate as Visas came through, and eventually they all ended up here, but it took about four years. They came in from Ecuador, and ended up here, all Americans now!

  2. P.S. This looks just like the Easter bread my Croatian stepmother makes. Saturday night at midnight, she goes outside and carries it in, candles all lit and signing a beautiful hymn. I got a video of it last year and it gives me chills. Powerful Easter traditions connected to bread and light and song!

    1. Blogger just KICKED ME in the face. Whatever, Blogger!!!!

      I was saying I've got a book with a Polish heroine and she does sweet traditions in a similar style. I love old traditions. There's an elegance of time that so many modern things miss. We tend toward too much this and too much that and we lose the simple blessing.

      I love simple blessings. How cool that your stepmother does that, Virginia!

  3. Ruthy, this is wonderful. And after thinking about food traditions yesterday, this is great.

    I have been looking at the recipe ever since you scheduled it. Is the texture of the bread like challah or is it heavier?

    1. This is a delightfully heavy bread, slightly sweet and more like a Danish base (without the dough conditioners so they stale quickly) and I've used it (Grandma's version) for kuchens, Danish, sweet rolls. If you were to make this into balls and put it in a pan to rise for sweet rolls, I bet you'd love it. I love the braiding because it looks old-fashioned.

  4. We are doing our annual Good Friday fish fry again this year, so after services tomorrow afternoon, when we come together and pray for so many beautiful things (things I think we should pray for daily)... we come home and family comes over and some friends and I heat up the fryers and make a mess of fried haddock, French fries, cole slaw and Mandy's bringing a salad.

    It's a day of fasting and abstinence, so there's no dessert, but I love that we can gather together after prayers at church to be a family on such a Holy Day.

  5. I don't know much about bread making...but this kind of looks like cinnamon rolls masquerading as Easter bread? Minus the cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins. I was going to make cinnamon rolls for Sunday brunch but maybe I should do this instead. And I have beautiful Ukrainian Easter Eggs and I could make a nest in the middle and use it as a centrepiece.

    Regarding sending your babies across the ocean on their own? Seriously?! How devastating for the husband waiting on the other side of the ocean expecting to finally have his family reunited. And how could you live with yourself, not knowing how your children are? Mind you. I've read enough historicals to know the trip across wasn't a picnic. But still. Not to mention both husband and wife would have been left in limbo the rest of their lives...not really married but not free to pursue another relationship either. There's a story there, Ruthy. And what happened to the sister left behind? Did she stay in the old country? Did she lose all touch with her siblings? You need to tell Ann's story (and give her a happily ever after!)

    1. According to Dave's mom, Great-grandpa went back to visit annually.

      That only adds more layers to an already interesting story! Grandma was 11 when she came over and her brother was 13.

      Of course Ben Franklin became a sailor about that age, when he got tired of listening to his brother's orders... and went off to sea! Maybe we expect too little of our adolescents these days???

  6. It's beautiful! I think even I could make this! I'll have to give it a try. That piece with the icing made my mouth water!

    1. Missy, for this weekend I'll make it and tuck bright, fruity jelly beans around the top. We've done it with colored coconut too, and if you like coconut, that's delicious. You toss some coconut with a few drops of food coloring, and then sprinkle it on. It's gorgeous if you use pink/green/yellow/purple and alternate sprinkling it as soon as you frost it.

    2. The only jelly beans I like are the Jelly Bellies you mentioned! LOL I love the butter popcorn flavor!! :)

    3. EEEEK! I hate those! (oh, sorry for the strong language!) I don't like them at all... Oh, yuck, it's like combining two oppositional parts of life and thinking it works... only this time it doesn't! :) It's okay, Missy, actually it's better if you and I don't love the same ones. If I bring jelly beans on a visit we won't fight! You get the awful ones and I get the Starburst! :)

    4. Butter popcorn is my favorite.... :)

  7. It's been a busy day, but I wish I had stopped by the cafe for a cup of tea and a slice of this bread before I started the to-do list!

    I'm with Kav. I was going to make cinnamon rolls (to go with the breakfast casseroles for Sunday morning), but I think I'm going to try this instead. The braid looks fabulous! I won't stick eggs in it, either, and probably not jelly beans.... The braid makes it look festive enough :)

    And a family torn apart? Oh, what a story! The why's, the anguish, the once-a-year journey for papa to go back to visit the rest of his family! Ruthy, it's a good thing you've already gotten your feet wet in historicals!