I Made No-Knead Easter Bread!!!
Can you believe it? Well, it's true. Let me start at the beginning.
If you recall, my Mom and I had a marathon baking session the other day. We churned out several different kinds of traditional Italian Easter treats. We were elbow deep in flour, butter and ricotta cheese, and gossiping our heads off, when we realized that we had forgotten to start the dough to make our Easter bread. Easter bread is a rich and slightly sweet yeast bread, that is braided and baked with colored eggs entwined in it. It is very similar to challah. Although it is a very popular Italian specialty, many other European cultures also boast their own version of it too.
We were majorly bummed about this, because this particular dough requires two rises. That meant that even if we dropped what we were doing and started right then, it would be at least three hours before the loaves would be ready to be baked. Crap! I couldn't believe we forgot about the bleeping Easter bread!
Suddenly, it hit me. I still had half a batch of the master recipe for brioche dough from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook sitting in my fridge. If I could make doughnuts and almond brioche out of that dough, why couldn't I make Easter bread out of it as well?
WHAT A FREAKIN' BRILLIANT IDEA!!!
I raced home and grabbed the dough, and raced back to Mom's. (It's a good thing we only live a few blocks away from each other or else I would have probably needed Stacey's defibrilator!) Within ten minutes, we had the dough formed and ready to rest. About an hour after that, the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked Easter bread was wafting through the house. Let me tell you, that house was already smelling pretty damn good from all of the pies we'd been baking. The combination of the two was absolutely heavenly!
Anyway, those loaves of bread turned out fantastic! They were beautifully burnished on the outside, and soft and pillowy on the inside. We were able to get two gorgeous round loaves out of the dough I had on hand. With a whole batch, I'm sure you could get four.
Imagine that! Who'd have thunk it? No-Knead Easter bread!
No-Knead Easter Bread
For the Brioche Dough:
1½ cups lukewarm water
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and 1½ cups melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You can also use a 14-cup capacity food processor or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before chilling. You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished product.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours. The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rise and rest times.
For the Easter Bread:
1 batch of brioche dough
Butter or grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper, or a silicone mat.
Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut into 4 quarters. Dust each piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.
Divide each ball into thirds, using a dough scraper or knife. Roll the balls between your hands (or on a board), stretching, to form each into a long, thin rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. Braid the ropes, starting from the center and working to about 1 inch from one end. Turn the loaf over, rotate it, and braid from the center out to about 1 inch from the remaining end. Carefully bring both ends around to form a circle, and braid the ends together to close the circle. Place one colored egg in the center of each loaf.
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. If you're not using a stone in the oven, 5 minutes is adequate. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Bake near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.
Pat yourself on the back for coming up with such a clever idea.