Easter bread, maritozzi, brioche… whatever you call it– it is soft, sweet, and just melts in your mouth!
And did I mention that it lends itself wonderfully to braids and cute shapes?
It is “March Break” in Canada, so my cousins and I got together to make maritozzi with our Nonna, in preparation for Easter. (Hence the poor quality cell phone pictures, as I forgot my camera at home.) This bread can be made in advance, however since this is an enriched dough, you must freeze it immediately once it cools and then let it defrost overnight before it is needed.
TRADITIONAL EASTER BREAD (MARITOZZI)
Serves: depends on the size of the loaves/buns that you choose to make! We made about 16 small buns, 8 medium wreaths, and 6 large braided loaves. (Can be reduced.)
- 6 eggs
- 2 packages yeast
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 1.5 cups neutral-flavoured oil
- 2 packages vanillin
- flour — enough to make a soft dough
- anise seeds (optional)
- Let the eggs come to room temperature and proof the yeast according to the directions on the package. Warm up the milk on the stove until it is lukewarm.
- Beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed in a very large bowl, until light and foamy.
- Add the milk and oil, and continue beating on low speed. Add the proofed yeast (along with the water used to proof it). Mix well.
- Carefully mix in the vanillin and if desired, anise seeds.
- Mix about 2 cups of flour with the liquid mixture to give it a bit of strength.
- Make a well with about 2 cups of flour on your work surface, and pour the liquid mixture into the middle.
- Carefully knead the dough, adding more flour as needed until you obtain a smooth but very soft dough. It should feel almost too soft, and should leave indents when pressed.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover very well and leave to rise for at least 3 hours.
- Once the dough has about tripled in volume (although the length of time you leave it to rise is entirely up to you), you are ready to get creative!
- Oil your work surface and your hands. Create buns and loaves by taking pieces of dough and rolling out different diameter ropes, and then twisting/braiding/wrapping them into your desired shapes!
- Place on oiled baking sheets, cover loosely with a cloth, and let rise about 2 hours (give or take).
- Bake at 300 F for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the size). You are aiming for a deep golden colouring.
Enjoy your sweet maritozzi for breakfast or dessert, with an espresso of course! This was our first batch and we divided it up amongst 4 families, so be sure to check back in about 2 weeks for my next batch– there will be some new and detailed design ideas! (And maybe even some recipe adjustments.)