Baking With Mom, Part 2: No-Knead Easter Bread

Okay, all you Easter bakers out there. I am now officially going to ROCK YOUR WORLD!!! I have stumbled upon something that is sure to revolutionize Easter bread baking. Are you ready? Maybe, you should sit down for this. Comfy? All right, here it comes..........
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?
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!

Since this bread is traditionally associated with the Easter holiday, I am submitting it as my entry in this month's Bread Baking Day event hosted by Susan at Wild Yeast, and founded by Zorra at Kochtopf. The theme for the month is Holiday celebrations.

No-Knead Easter Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
For the Brioche Dough:
1½ cups lukewarm water
1½ tablespoons granulated yeast (1½ packets)
1½ tablespoons salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup honey
7½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
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:
(Makes 4 loaves)
1 batch of brioche dough
4 raw, dyed eggs, more if you are clumsy (Make sure you use raw eggs. They will cook along with the bread. I didn't do this and my eggs sank like pretty colored lead bullets!)
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
colored sanding sugar for decorating (optional)
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.

Allow the bread to rest and rise on the prepared cookie sheet for about an 1 hour.
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.

For more Easter Bread recipes, check out:


test it comm said…
Great looking Easter bread! Nice colours. I have not tried braiding a bread yet. It looks like fun. That no knead brioche dough sounds really good.
RecipeGirl said…
Very nice! I thought about doing a similar version as a centerpiece for Easter Sunday that incorporated more eggs in it but I'm feeling too lazy.

The pic in the middle looks a little like two boobs :)
Who would have "thunk" it could come together so easily. Your bread is ready for the festivities:D
Gretchen Noelle said…
What another fun use for no-knead brioche! Lovely looking bread!
Heather said…
Okay, this is driving me crazy, so I hafta ask: are you using a light, or do you just shoot everything in daylight?

Gorgeous, gorgeous, jealousy-making yummy perfection. You haz it!
Amanda said…
That's brilliant! What a great way to improvise.

So I guess this begs the question: do you think you'll you go back to your traditional recipe next time? Or stick to this no-knead one, given it's success?
Susan @ SGCC said…
Kevin- Thank you! You have GOT to try this dough recipe. It is so versatile and forgiving. You just cannot mess it up!

Recipegirl- O.M.G!!! You're right. They do look like boobs! How could I not have noticed that? How embarrassing! This gives the term "food porn" a whole new meaning!

Valli- Thanks! I don't know how I managed to survive before No-Knead bread!

Gretchen- The possibilities do seem to be endless, don't they? Glad you liked it.

Heather- Thank you SO much! It really means a lot that you like the pictures. My house is so dark. I don't even have a window in my kitchen! I have only 2 areas where I can shoot my photos. During the day, I shoot out on my screened-in patio a lot. I get a lot of filtered sun out there. In my bedroom, I have a built in window seat surrounded by three big windows. I use that as my little "studio" area. When there is a lot of natural light, I just pull up the shades. At night, I use a digital imaging lamp that I got for about $80 at Amazon with a white foam board to reflect the light. Trust me. I throw out a lot more shots than I actually use!

Mrs. W- Glad you like it! I'm no masochist! I will definitely use this recipe again. It made a delicious, tender bread. The only thing I would do differently is add a little more honey or sugar to the dough.
I am a STAR.....I have been aptly named in the blog. Holy Frickin Frijoles. Hehehehe. Nice bread. I made the brioche again last night and baked off 2 bostock. mmmmmmmm
Pixie said…
I haven't had easter bread since living in ny! We do get hot cross buns here and they're really good....I'm going to have to buy some now.
That's lovely! And thank you for the Brioche recipe...I have been trying to decide what type of bread to have with Easter dinner...and this will work perfectly.
I love Easter brioche with the egg in the middle. We used to get it every year and at it for breakfast. Beautiful!
Anonymous said…
Pretty easter bread! And no-knead too, wow!
Robin said…
Wonderful! I used to do this the long hard way, so thanks for the shorter version. I will be making these your way this Easter along with my pizzelles. Thanks!
Cakelaw said…
These are so pretty! I wanna steal that Easter basket.
Susan, I'll have to bake this! It looks wonderful and easy...
Susan @ SGCC said…
Obsessive- Yes, my dear, you have arrived! ;) I can't say enough about how in love I am with this dough. It works with so many things and you can't screw it up!

Pixie- I don't think I've ever had hot cross buns, but I've been seeing a lot of them on the blogs. What are they like?

Culinary Cowgirl- Thank you! This bread is a dream to make. And it is soooo good!

Aran- Thanks! This is what we used to have on Easter morning after Mass. The kids used to fight over the eggs! Not me. I went straight for the chocolate!

Linda-I'm glad you like it! I've seen some gorgeous things on your blog too.

Robin Sue- Thank you! My mom was pretty shocked that we made this so easily. We'll probably give up the hard way too. Pizzelles! I love them! They never stay crisp in this humidity, though. :(

Cakelaw- Thanks! I'm glad I saved all the baskets that the "Easter Bunny" left for my daughter when she was little. I finally have a use for them.

Patricia- Do try it. It is wonderful and easy! :)
Cakespy said…
Now this is truly an inspired easter treat! They look like little nests themselves. Just looking at the Flickr pictures made me shiver with anticipation. Clearly I "knead" (well, or no-knead) this bread!
Deborah said…
I love this!! This book certainly seems to be taking over the world - I know I love it!!
Mansi said…
That is simply gorgeous and stunning!!
Brilynn said…
I love this book! There's no end to what it can do!
Oh, Susan, this post brings back so many wonderful memories of baking Easter breads with my mom. We used to bake the whole egg right into too. Your pretty pastel colored ones are perfect. I only wish I sit down with you to enjoy some good bread and good conversation.
Helene said…
Wonderful idea! I love this bread works for everything! I think we are probably the only culture (France) not to have an Easter bread, weird for the land of bakeries!! I think bakers took a holiday that day!!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Cakespy- Thank you so much! They are kind of cute, aren't they. I'm glad you liked them.

Deborah- Thanks! The book is great. I don't know how I survived without it! ;)

Mansi- Thank you. I'm glad you like it! :)

Brilynn- Ain't it the truth. What did we ever do without it!

Susan- It must be hard for you to be so far from your family, especially at holiday time. Except for college and grad school, I've never been farther that 2 miles from mine.
I wish we could hang out together too. We could do some damage!;) If you ever need a paisana to chat with, email me.

Tartelette- Thanks! I can't believe that the French don't have a version of this. Well, they have so many other amazing things, we'll let it slide. ;)
Anonymous said…
I'm so glad your no-knead brioche dough saved the day! I didn't know that about the raw eggs, but it makes sense. Lovely breads, thanks for submitting them to BBD.
Peabody said…
That turned out awesome!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Susan- Thanks! Glad you liked them.

Peabody- Thank you! Gotta love that No-Knead bread dough!
SaraLynn said…
This is outstanding! I may have to give it a go!!
Y said…
I love that you and your mom bake together. My mom's not one for baking. By the way, love the choice of colours on your bread. Very festive! :)
Anonymous said…
Hi :)
love the pictures and how you photograph parts of steps too! they're very helpful:)

one question, after you make the dough for the No-Knead Easter Bread, how long do you refrigerate it for before you can actually use it?
Magz said…
Hi! Just found your site when I was searching for Easter bread recipes...I ALSO came across the Make Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes today and am itching to try it! I was wondering...if you are adding spices to the bread (I am planning to make a Greek version of the bread) then at what point would you add them? To the starter or when you make the individual loaves?
Susan @ SGCC said…
Magz- If it were me, I'd add the flavorings or spices to the bread in the beginning. They will be easier to mix in the dough that way. When you are ready to bake your bread, you are not supposed to knead it, so adding spices then might cause you to over work your dough and end up with a tough loaf.

I have added citrus zest and grated cheese that way and it worked well.

Happy baking! You will LOVE the Artisan Bread recipes!
Anna said…
I just wanted to say that I made this bread following your instructions exactly and it came out AMAZING! You can take a look at my blog if you're curious :)
It spread a bit more than I anticipated and because I crowded all 4 rounds onto one sheet, they didn't come out as pretty as yours, but I will definitely be making this time maybe with golden raisins?
Magz said…
Susan, the bread turned out great! I have blogged it on my Five For... blog. Thanks so much for the recipe! It took a while to figure out braiding it in the round, but two out of four loaves looked presentable. The others didn't look braided, but they still tasted YUMMY! I am SO getting that Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book!!!

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