Aunt Anna’s Easter Bread

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Aunt Anna’s Easter Bread

I don’t know who Aunt Anna is…probably my mom’s aunt or maybe even her great aunt, but her bread will live on in my family for generations if I have anything to do with it.  I’ve been eating this bread since I was a baby and making it for about 12 years now.  It is DIVINE.   You could just call it “Challah with raisins” because, well, that’s basically what it is!   It’s soft, chewy, a little bit sweet and best the day it’s baked with a hefty smear of good butter.   I make three gigantic loaves every year for our Easter party and it is gone within 30 minutes, long before even the pierogies!   I feel funny sharing this recipe even though it’s not secret.  It feels a tiny bit sacred to me, but if it’s going to live on, I may as well share how to make it.

Aunt Anna’s original recipe makes a lot of bread, and it doesn’t fit in a mixer because I imagine she was using a bowl, spoon and really strong arms…so I’ve worked these measurements out to make one big loaf in a mixer fitted with a dough hook.

AUNT ANNA’S EASTER BREAD

makes 1 large loaf

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water (about 100 F)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
  • 3 cups flour plus more for mixing and kneading
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 shake of ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 beaten egg mixed with a little water
  • Combine water, yeast and the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and set aside to proof.
    Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and a shake of cloves in a mixer on low speed with a dough hook.  Add the milk, eggs, oil, and yeast mixture and mix until combined.  Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a dough forms but is still quite sticky.  Add the raisins.  Mix on low speed for 5-8 minutes.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand a few times until a soft elastic ball forms.  Rise covered in an oiled bowl for 1 hour or until doubled.  Punch down and let rise again, covered, until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch down and cut into 3 even pieces.  Roll each piece into a long, 20 inch (or so) snake.  Form the 3 snakes into a braid, pinch and fold under the ends and rise again, covered, on cookie sheet for about 45 minutes.  Brush with the egg wash and bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes or until deep shiny brown and sounds hollow when tapped.   Cool slightly before cutting.

IMG_2482Here’s a looonnnng video of me making it in case you want a more detailed view of the dough and process!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Aunt Anna’s Easter Bread

  1. Great video – I am totally using too much flour in my breads. I couldn’t believe how wet it was when you took it out of the mixer – but it turned out perfect. I’m hungry.

    • I know! It took many years for me to figure this out! I think it was when I made “The Bread Bible” focaccia recipe and it is the SOUPIEST batter ever. She says to leave the mixer running for 20 minutes and miraculously it turns into a ball after that amount of time. It was definitely my AH HA moment!

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