Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Makes 2 9-Inch Round Breads
One of the Easter breads my mother made had colored eggs nestled in the dough before it was baked. The recipe came from her friend Mrs. Condello, who made sure this bread was blessed by the priest on Holy Saturday. The bread has a coarse texture, is not overly sweet, and can be dressed up with a thin vanilla icing and gaily colored sprinkles after it is baked. (The eggs will not be edible.)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
8 colored hard-boiled eggs
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil with a rotary beater or a wooden spoon until well blended. Sift the flour and the baking powder together and add to the egg mixture about a cup at a time, mixing with your hands until a soft but no longer sticky dough is formed.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable, about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope 22 inches long and 1 inch thick. Cut a 2-inch piece off each rope and reserve. Loosely braid 2 of the ropes together and bring the ends together to form a circle; pinch the ends together. Repeat with the remaining 2 ropes.
Place each braid on a greased baking sheet. Space 4 eggs evenly around the circles, nestling them in the braided dough. Divide each of the reserved 4 pieces of dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3-inch-long rope. Using 2 ropes of dough per egg, place a cross over each egg, tucking the ends into the dough.
Bake the braids for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the confectioner's sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk. Mix well. Add enough additional milk to make a thin icing, stirring until smooth. Drizzle the icing over the braids and scatter colored sprinkles over them.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1991.