Easter Crown Bread is a traditional European Easter sweet bread that's plaited into a rope, formed into a ring and studded with eggs. The bread derives its name from Christ's crown of thorns as the shape of the bread with its egg decorations sticking out resembles the thorn crown. Although the eggs are also the symbol of hope and re-birth.
This is very decorative bread and makes a wonderful centrepiece for an Easter table. It can then be consumed with coffee or a sweet wine on Easter Sunday evening.
Note that you need five raw eggs for this recipe. The shells should be colored before inserting them into the plaits of the bread.
Easter Crown Bread
650 to 700g plain flour (divided use)
50g granulated sugar
1 pack active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
160ml warm milk
2 tbsp softened butter or margarine
90g chopped, mixed, candied fruit
50g chopped, blanched, almonds
1/2 tsp anise seed
5 uncooked eggs
Non-toxic egg coloring
In a large mixing bowl, combine 200g of the flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the milk and butter and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed. Then add the eggs and 100g flour and beat on high for 2 minutes. Stir-in the fruit, nuts, and anise seed, mixing well. Then stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn this out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 to 8 minutes). Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
About 30 minutes before the dough has finished rising, color the 5 eggs (leave them uncooked) with non-toxic dyes. When dry, light rub them with vegetable oil.
Knock back the rational dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a 24-inch rope. On a grown baking sheet, loosely twist the two roads together then shape into a ring and pinch the ends together. Gently split the ropes and tuck the 5 colored uncooked eggs into the openings. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 ° C for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.
It is time that this very traditional form of Easter bread re-gained its rightful place of prominence on the Easter table.