Easter bread is a tradition in many European countries. Very similar to Brioche, this sweetened-yeasted bread is a baked treat usually studded with raisins, and in Germany it will also have almond flakes in it. It can be flavoured with lemon zest or rum, the latter being my favourite, especially when raisins are rum infused. As Easter bread traces its origin back to Byzantium and the early Orthodox Christian church, it might as well be flavoured with mahlab, don’t you think? Mahlab is an aromatic spice that has been extensively used in Middle Eastern sweets for centuries.
Things to do before making the dough
- Remove eggs from your fridge and keep at room temperature for at least 4 hours.
- Keep butter at room temperature as well. Butter has to become very soft.
- Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes, drain and soak in rum for at least 4 hours or overnight. If you don’t like rum, skip this step. Just rinse raisins and drain before using.
- Weigh all ingredients and grease bowl.
Steps in Photos
- For the dough
- 100 g raisins
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 130 ml lukewarm milk
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon rum
- 120 g very soft butter plus ½ tablespoon
- For the egg wash
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons milk
- For garnish
- 1 tablespoon almond flakes
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- Four hours before making dough soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and soak with 2 tablespoons rum.
- Grease a bowl with ½ tablespoon soft butter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a small bowl stir together yeast and sugar. Pour in the milk and cover with a saucer. Let stand for about 10 minutes until foamy. With a fork whisk the eggs with 1 teaspoon rum.
- Whisk flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk-yeast mixture and the eggs. With a tablespoon add the butter around the yeast and eggs.
- With the dough hook mix at low speed 2 until a very soft dough forms about 6 minutes. Stop machine. Drain raisins and add to the dough. Mix at low speed to incorporate all raisins about 3 minutes.
- With the help of a spatula scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and transfer to a slightly floured working surface. Knead slightly to coat the flour. Transfer onto the greased bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a quiet and warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
- Deflate and transfer onto a slightly floured surface. Divide into two equal parts and form 2 balls. Place on the prepared sheet, cover and let rise for at least one hour.
- With a sharp knife score the top of the bread by making a cross cut. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with few raisins and almond flakes.
- Preheat oven (170 °C/ 340°F) and bake for about 25 minutes until nicely golden brown in colour. Reduce heat to 160°C / 320°F and bake for 5-10 minutes. When dividing dough into 2 loaves, time is a bit less.