Mini Braided Easter Bread Recipe
Mini Braided Easter Bread Recipe – sweet easter breads with a colored egg in the middle. Cute, festive and easy to make. Soft, stringy bread that pulls away, flavored with vanilla, lemon and orange zest and topped with sugar for a sweet, crunchy finish.
This Mini Braided Easter Bread Recipe is perfect for Easter gifts or to add to your holiday table.
I celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter as well and some of you may not know, but it is this Sunday.
Since I’m on a low carb diet, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bake Easter bread. But a friend told me that my Bulgarian Easter Bread is the best one she’s ever tried, so I can’t afford to not make any this year!
I love baking and using the easiest Easter bread recipe I have, I created these mini braided sweet breads.
Adding a hard boiled colored egg in the middle of each bread makes them fun, colorful and festive. The recipe is straight forward and makes 4 mini Easter breads.
Each bread is enough for 2-3 people, but who likes to share?
This Mini Braided Easter Bread Recipe is made with yeast and requires rising time and also proofing the yeast. I sometimes use live yeast, but it is not widely available and easily stored, so I made today’s breads with dry yeast. I like to proof it because I hate wasting ingredients…
Ever wonder why won’t your Easter bread rise? I’ve had quite a few failures.
Sweet Easter Bread became my friend in the recent years. Before that, even though I took some lessons from my grandmother, things kept going wrong and my Easter bread dough rarely rose.
- The yeast is not good. From time to time yeast is not active, has expired or is defective. There is nothing you can do. I’ve never had this issue with live yeast, but as I mentioned before, it is not widely available here in the US, this is why I’ll stick with dry yeast.
- The ingredients are too cold. Temperature matters. They need to be at room temperature.
- The liquid, where you are dissolving the yeast for proofing is too cold or hot. This seems to be a common problem. With my experimenting I’ve found that “luke warm” milk or water won’t do it. I always have to measure the temperature of the liquid and it has to be between 100 F and 115 F. Nothing above – because it will “kill the yeast” or under, because it will not activate it to proof.
Tips for baking easter bread:
- Preheat your oven at least 30 minutes in advance. You can also set a rack under the one you’ll be baking on and place a pan, filled with water. This will create extra steam and make the bread rise even more.
- Don’t over bake the Easter bread. This will make it dry and crumby. Always aim for stringy sweet Easter bread. To achieve that, bake just until done. Toothpick inserted should come out clean and the bread should be golden on top. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, while baking, make sure you cover the top with aluminum foil and continue baking, then remove the foil at the end and let it brown until done.
- Different pans, ovens and bread sizes require different baking time. You need to make a decision and know when to take the bread out.
Optional Easter Bread dough mix ins:
I suggest that you add these after the initial dough rise, before you shape the braids.
- nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts
- candied citrus peel (I have a recipe for candied orange peel)
Easter Bread flavorings:
I like to use vanilla extract and lemon zest. The combination is fresh and screams “sweet bread” to me.
Other possible flavorings are orange zest, orange liqueur, rum, almond extract, mahleb (spice), cardamon.
Mini Braided Easter Bread Recipe - sweet easter breads with a colored egg in the middle. Cute, festive and easy to make. Soft, stringy bread that pulls away, flavored with vanilla, lemon and orange zest and topped with sugar for a sweet, crunchy finish.
- 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
- 1 cup warm milk 100 F- 115 F
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp orange zest optional
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature, not melted
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp milk
- 4 hard boiled eggs, colored
- sprinkles optional
In a small bowl combine dry yeast, 1/2 cup of the milk and 1 tbsp sugar. Cover and set a side for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, sift flour and add in salt.Set a side.
In a bowl (you can use a stand mixer) whisk together sugar and eggs, until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and then milk. Add in yeast and milk mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1/2 of the flour and mix until well combined.
At this time you can add the lemon juice, orange zest and lemon zest.
Gradually add the rest of the flour, mixing just until combined (I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the dough hook of speed 4-6).
Dough should be soft and sticky.
Transfer the dough to a working surface and start kneading, slowly adding the softened butter with hands. Mix the butter in completely.
Transfer dough to a large greased and floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at a warm place, until it doubles its size. This may take between 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature, humidity and types of ingredients used.
Prepare the egg wash for brushing the bread by whisking together 1 egg yolk, 2 tbsp milk. Keep in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Divide the dough into 4 balls.
Cut each ball in half, then roll ropes and braid them together, leaving a spot in the middle to place the egg. Place eggs in the middle. Transfer the breads to a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, let them rise for 30-45 minutes, until they double their size.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top are golden. Let the breads cool at room temperature and store wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for op to 1 week.