This is my family's Easter Bread recipe, that I have mentioned before, and which I promised coll (are you there, coll?) that I would post when I got home from Egypt. I would call this a heritage recipe, meaning that it is something that was transcribed watching someone bake it. But we have made this recipe many years (believe it or not, I have cut this recipe in half), and the only thing extra I have to say is to allow plenty of time for both rises. It says three hours for the first rise, but that can be closer to 4. You will notice that the recipe has relatively little yeast for the large amount of flour and eggs. As far as putting eggs on the braid, do that if you like. By the time I began eating this bread as a child, no one who made it was doing that.
One aside --my father used to tell the story of how his sister would send him one of these loaves while he was in the army. He would surreptitiously hide it in his foot locker, and sneak into the bunk to have a slice when no one else was around so he could have it to himself and make it last. It supposedly lasted a month this way!
Makes 4 loaves
10 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 dozen large eggs
½ cup of butter
scant ¼ cup Crisco
¾ cup milk
scant ½ cup brandy or rye whiskey
½ teaspoon salt
2 envelopes yeast (dissolve in small amount of lukewarm water. If available, use 1 ounce of fresh yeast instead)
1. Melt butter and Crisco in a pot with milk over low flame
2. Add to flour along with lightly beaten eggs, yeast mixture and brandy
3. Mix together and begin to knead. Knead until dough is smooth and slightly sticky. If it sticks to your hands too much, add additional flour as you knead.
4. Put the dough into a large greased pot, and put in a warm place to rise for 3 hours.
5. Cut into 4 parts, and braid or put into greased pans and let rise until the dough crests the pan. (I make 1 large braid with two parts, and loaves with the other two.)
6. Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes (NB Since this bread has a large amount of sugar, watch carefully so that it doesn’t get too dark or burn). Check for doneness by thumping the bottom or use an instant read thermometer. Temperature should be about 190 degrees.
7. As soon as the bread is out of the oven, brush with beaten egg.
Yes, you could only make half, but the spirit of this bread is to give it to friends and relative at Easter. It also freezes really, really well. Remember, this is HALF of the original recipe! Lol. Can you imagine that little old lady up to her elbows in 20 lbs of flour? And no mixers then either!!