Italian easter bread

Last night I hosted a Passover seder for my in-laws. Today my Easter Bread recipe is featured on The Washington Post. It's a poetic juxtaposition of the two worlds I float between.

But I have Kim in my head, whispering "be happy for the moment". So I will let my quandry of how to raise the girls with a spiritual guidance rest for just a few minutes.

I will push that feeling of limbo, my wonders of what really happens in the afterlife—if there is an afterlife, to the recesses of my brain for a few moments and enjoy what I have worked hard to achieve.

Sure, I've been published before, but this Washington Post article is something special. When I was in college, I subscribed to the paper. I figured what better way for a local gal, studying journalism at Brooklyn College, to start taking her craft seriously.

Why did the Washington Post feel more important than the gospel of my hometown, The New York Times?

Maybe it was because it represented a wider world, someplace further from where I grew up and settled for college—my mom and I knew nothing about scholarships back then.

I took courses day and night to fit in three jobs so I could pay for college. Between classes I was a nanny to a child model and actress, tutored ESL students at the campus language lab and was a stock girl at the Gap on nights and weekends. I even pushed a popcorn cart at the local movie theater during one summer.

There were no silver spoons. While it may seem easy now, looking in on my daily life, peeking to see what simmers and stirs in my kitchen, my story is truly one made from scratch. The memories of my past serve as sustenance to keep me working towards my dreams for tomorrow.

And little bursts of sunshine like this one in The Washington Post are an important reminder.

Almost 20 years later, after a very winding, and sometimes uncertain path, it looks like I really am gonna make it after all.

Italian Easter Bread

Makes one 12-inch ring

I've noted the ingredients here by weight, so everyone can enjoy this recipe. For the full directions and to read my article, please visit The Washington Post All We Can Eat blog.

4 teaspoons (17 grams) active dry yeast

6 cups (900 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher salt

1 cup scalded milk, cooled to 110º

8 ounces butter, softened

1/2 cup (4 ounces) sugar

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon lemon extract

4 to 6 eggs, optional

1 egg white beaten with a splash of cold water

1/4 cup simple syrup, to glaze

Multi-colored nonpareils, to decorate

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Comments

  • Mrs. Jen B: That is absolutely lovely! Now I sorta wish I wasn’t making babka, aka Polish Easter bread…! ;)

  • Juanita: Congrats on the Washington Post piece!
    I appreciate the addition of grams, as it makes the recipe super easy to convert to gluten-free. Thanks for that.
    This is a really gorgeous looking bread. The whole eggs are such a quirky addition…I’ve never seen that done before!
    JP’s Note: Yes, the eggs are a fun addition and now that I have a killer recipe for egg salad, it’s a win-win!

  • Mia: I’m really thankful for the long weekend. It means I’ll get to try this stellar recipe!

  • Lora @cakeduchess: Beautiful bread, Jennifer! Bravissima! Congrats on the Washington Post:)

  • Winnie: Congrats Jennie!!! Just lovely :)

  • LimeCake: That looks golden and glorious and so beautiful! Happy Easter!

  • Auntie: Hey Jennifer, can you mail me one of these delicious breads?
    JP’s Note: Oh auntie, if only I could! We’ll miss you at brunch this Sunday—and there will be Easter bread.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food: I saw loaves of this at the bakery today too… and I was like, “What is that?” Looks like challah with egg in it. Which, I must say, I think is brilliant! :-)
    Yours looks so wonderfully golden brown on top. Lovely!

  • Dea: This looks beautiful! Could you substitute lemon extract by lemon juice? If so, with which ratio? Thanks!
    JP’s Note: I’ve tried various ratios with fresh squeezed lemon, but none give this bread that citrusy kick the way the lemon extract does. If it helps, I used Nielsen-Masseys—they kindly sent me a sample for testing purposes and it was fantastic. They extracts are all very high quality and pure.

  • Jan: This is beautiful! I think I might bake it today :)

  • Rosalee: Jennie,
    Can I just substitute gluten free all purpose flour for the flour you used in this receipe. I have severe celiac disease so no cross contamination at all, but I really want to make this Italian Easter Bread & it must be gluten free.
    Thanx

    JP’s Note: I can’t say for sure how it will work since I haven’t tried with GF all purpose flour. I will say that I recently used Glutino’s AP flour in one of my cupcake recipes, and it was an even swap, and they came out perfect. Let me know if you give it a try!

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