Easter Sweet Bread*
6 cups flour (I use 2 cups of whole wheat)
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 t salt
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, diluted with 1/2 cup warm water
1 t vanilla
1 t cardamom
1 t cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 egg, beaten
1 cup dried cranberries
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 T sugar
Combine three cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl. I like to do this in a large bowl with a lid I can seal — you could easily do this in a large Tupperware. Add diluted milk, vanilla, lemon, lemon juice, cinnamon and cardamom. Add eggs and then work in cranberries. Beat in butter. Add additional flour a little at a time. You may need to add a bit more warm water to get the bread the right consistency. It should be sticky when all of the flour is incorporated. Knead until smooth, using the heel of your hand, about ten minutes. Place in bowl, cover and let sit for 2 hours. The ball should double in size.
Punch down dough, divide in two, and let rest for an hour. Brush each ball with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar (or more cinnamon). Bake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet until golden: about one hour.
*Adapted from Collen’s Portuguese recipe.
This loaf makes for a great slice of bread, or even better French toast. I’m hoping wrapped up it also makes for a nice, while unconventional, Easter basket. Easter is certainly one of my favorite holidays, only behind Thanksgiving. With the lovely and mild spring we’ve had, it seems like an even better reason to be baking, gifting and enjoying the sweet season.