Let’s dredge up some memories.

Shall we?

(Am I the only person out there who finds long term memory to be absolutely romantic? Your neurons take a thought, an image, a feeling. Break it up into little pieces. And dot them throughout your brain. It’s a safety mechanism so that, should something happen to a cluster of neurons in one location, your prefrontal cortex for example, you don’t have to fear. There are other clusters with the same information in your cerebellum. Ensuring that, at least the important things, will not be left behind. Forgotten. It also explains why you could be sitting on a stationary bike at the gym. Thinking about what color socks you will wear tomorrow. When all of a sudden images of your first school dance pop into your head. You just never know how the circuits are connected. It’s random. And yet not. Love that.)


Anyway. Now that I’ve waxed poetic about neurology for long enough (scratch that off the bucket list). Let’s remember.

When I think about Easters past. I, of course, remember chocolate bunnies. Reese’s peanut butter cups. Jelly beans.

I remember technicolor eggs scattered throughout the house. That my parents insisted on hiding up until last year. But then we woke up to find eggshells scattered throughout the house after the dog had sniffed them out. And that ended that.
Mostly, though. I remember my grandmother’s Easter bread.

She made loaves upon loaves of it every year. And we would take two or three. Freeze them. And eat them, covered in butter, for weeks afterward.

It was light. Fluffy. And covered in a confectioner’s sugar glaze that clustered around the center of the loaf, which I would always save for last.

I can’t remember anymore when she stopped making them. Probably when we moved her from the Bronx to an apartment across the street from my parents. (Yes we are very Everybody Loves Raymond.) About seven years ago.

And by now. Although many of her other neural connections have been lost in the ether. I’m willing to bet that she could remember how to make this bread. If she wanted to. (From muscle memory, at least.) But first she’d have to remember what Easter is. And that, I think, may be too much to ask.
When I announced to my family that I was making this bread, my brother almost screamed for joy. (That’s how good it was. My brother doesn’t scream for food. Ever.)

My mother, on the other hand, had no recollection of us ever even liking this bread. The shrieks of jubilee coming from my siblings somehow did not clue her in.

She then asked why I wasn’t going over to my grandmother’s house to make it. Kind of difficult, considering that you disconnected her oven, Mom.

Anyway, I found the whole scene very comedic. I’m on the phone. Daniel is screaming in the background and the whole time my mother is saying, “You liked this bread? Really?”

Being able to present it to my family was possibly one of my proudest moments as a baker. Followed only by tasting it. Which was a revelation in and of itself.
Italian Easter Bread
Makes 1 loaf, adapted somewhat from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice and mostly from my memory

2 3/4 – 3 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs
melted butter, for brushing on top
confectioner’s glaze or milked down vanilla buttercream frosting (I had leftovers from a cake I had made)
sprinkles

1. In a large bowl, combine one cup of flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Heat milk and 2 tbsp butter over low heat until the butter has just melted. Add to the dry ingredients and milk for 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally.

2. Add eggs and 1 3/4 cup flour. Mix by hand or with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, if you have one (I don’t). Stir in enough extra flour to make a soft dough (I ended up using probably the whole 3 1/4 cups). Turn onto a floured board and knead for 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Punch down the dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a rope. I think my ropes were about 1 1/2 feet each. Twist ropes together, then connect into a ring on a Silpat or baking sheet covered with parchment paper. (NOTE – traditionally this bread has you incorporate colored eggs into the dough. But my mom is very squeamish about such things and I didn’t want to “waste” any eggs, so I left them out.) Cover and let rise for another hour. Brush with melted butter.

4. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove, cool, and glaze. Decorate with sprinkles.

This has been yeastspotted!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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83 Responses to Adventures with Yeast – Italian Easter Bread

  1. This does look soft and fluffy! yummy!This one is bookmarked. Grandmom’s are the best cooks and mine can’t hear a thing when I ask her something now.

  2. Karine says:

    Such a cute story :)

    My grandma’s bread was always rock hard. But you did an amazing job with yours!

  3. Pam says:

    Thanks for the lesson on memories, which doesn’t explain why I can’t remember anything! Perhaps my brain scattered them about and then forgot where it scattered them. This bread looks divine, and what a fun family you have!

  4. Shannon says:

    you always make me laugh :) but this bread looks great, sounds similar to the sweetbreads we have at easter (babka, poppyseed bread, etc.)!

  5. Honestly u have company here…My neurons take every piece of info as romantic and the same is processed to the prefrontal cortex and ceerebellum and all the other circuits that connect…..
    and i love what ur neurons do to this beautiful bread story…justice and loads more…
    ur right…its soft and fluffy and deliciously cute …love those sprinkles stickn thru with the white glaze,i’ll make sure my piece has lods of this when i make mine and yeah ur cinnamon specs almost made me think ”vanilla beans”….
    i would love to have them with my new found loves ,danish and french beurre…
    All in all an amzingly,breathing romantically…. bread i sure wanna bake soonnnn…

  6. Debbi Smith says:

    Awesome story. The fact that it has sprinkles on it gets a thumbs up from this family. My brother, who lives here too, tried to convince me to call my blog, Debbi Does Dinner with Sprinkles. He said that no one else had a blog with every meal having sprinkles. So this is good, they would love this. :-)

  7. so perfectly baked italian bread, looks so yum

  8. Katerina says:

    I have also great food memories from my grandma and I always remember her with love. This looks very yummy.

  9. Lori says:

    This looks so good. I have tons of Christmas food memories, but not so many from Easter. At least not great breads and pastries. Looks like I’m going to have to start creating some of my own. I should start with this. :)

  10. My paternal grand mom is the only surviving grandparent and all I ever remember her doing was butchering a chicken right in front my eyes to make a stew(I was a vegetarian at that time).I get kinda dizzy remembering that incident..I wish my brain would somehow erase that memory..lol.
    The Easter Bread looks fabulous with all that sprinkles. Yum!

  11. Joanne,,great work dear…bread baked perfectly looks soooo soft n spongy dear…

  12. To think that with just a memory you created a bread that looks like it came straight from an Italian bakery shop, i am impressed Joanne; too bad grandma could not contribute; at least did she get to see it or have a bite of it?

  13. sra says:

    There’s a banana peel in my dustbin, and it somehow transformed into the smell of baking as I read your post. I’d just been reading about augmented reality earlier, and I guess I was imagining things.

    I suppose dredging up long-ago memories is romantic, though sometimes the memories may themselves not be romantic. Sometimes things in hindsight are not so bad/ better/ more valuable than they were when they were happening. I certainly don’t remember childhood being a bed of roses all through but it WAS fun – or maybe we’re able to laugh about it only now.

  14. a great story and a beautiful bread…

    But if poetic ramblings is on your bucket list, just how long is it???

  15. HEAVENLY. HEAVENLY> oh my god. i think i just drooled. oh wait, i was sleeping on my keyboard. har har.

    ANYWAYS, anything with those rockin’ sprinkles is BOUND TO TASTE GOOD! (the little TINY sprinkles. none of this “jimmy” thing).

  16. I’m sad. I didn’t make the Easter bread this year. Easter just wasn’t the same. When you described it – light and fluffy – and covered in butter. I almost cried. I still have time to make it, right?

  17. Bob says:

    Don’t you love it when parents don’t remember stuff like that? I find they do it all the time with food, my mom doesn’t remember me liking anything. Well, except junk. Heh.

    The bread sounds great, reminds me a bit of king cake.

  18. Mimi says:

    Great story. I love that you are keeping your grandma’s bread recipe alive. Food traditions get lost so easily. It’s good that you can keep this going for your siblings.

  19. This is it! The bread I’ve been looking for to be my first real bread made with yeast (cinnamon rolls don’t count). It’s perfect for a snack or breakfast. Can’t wait to make it!

  20. Barbara says:

    Good for you, Joanne! And you had the recipe too! Those recipes get lost…now it will be forever online. It looks wonderful. Did your Grandma get to taste it?

  21. Mari says:

    Joanne seriously quit medical school and open your own restaurant!!!!! I hate to see this talent go to waste lol…oh wait it wont because you are cooking for me at the end of the month…you can stay in medical school! All is right with the world again hahaha

  22. Pam says:

    The bread looks moist and tasty and the sprinkles make it looks so festive.

  23. Mary says:

    It is a gorgeous bread, but you know, of course, that you’ll have to bake it for the family for the rest of your life ;-). No good deed will go unpunished. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  24. Debbie says:

    Joanne that is one delicious looking bread! I have to make this one day. I love how you used the nonpariels!!! Just wonderful!!!

  25. teresa says:

    such fun memories! this bread look magnificent!

  26. oh, delicious! This will make my Friday Favorites post this week :)

  27. Michelle says:

    Gorgeous bread and a much nicer memory then some weird rabbit hopping around being baskets of junk food to your door! :)))

  28. oh wow I want a slice right now!

  29. The bread looks fantastic! I love the colorful sprinkles!

  30. this is so pretty !!! I am amazed by how colorful the bread can be . eating too much whole wheat makes me kinda forget the fancy version of the bread!

  31. that looks exactly like the greek easter bread my mom makes! i posted pics-don’t you think?

  32. Oooo, I’ve never had Easter bread! It is beautiful, Joanne! You did your grandma proud :-)

  33. Bridgett says:

    You always do such fun posts and your bread is gorgeous. No wonder why your brother screamed for joy!

  34. elra says:

    Wow, Joanne … I am truly impress. Well done dear, your bread look amazing. Love those colorful sugar sprinkle!

  35. Martha says:

    Great post and great bread! :-)

  36. Martha says:

    PS – Love the new look here too

  37. Chris says:

    I thought I’d come to the wrong blog for a minute. Didn’t realize Eats Well With Others got a new kitchen :)

    I have never had “easter bread” before, I never heard of it until this post. I had a sheltered childhood, I guess;)

  38. Julie says:

    awwww i could just imagine your fam’s faces as your present this bread :) i hope they were smiling the way i am too right now.

    um i also wish that there was some way you could have slipped some j beans into that bread…

    make it happen.

    p.s. we need a peanut butter diet update.

  39. sweetlife says:

    great post…I adore my grandma and everything she made for us…your brother shrieking..how cute…hey I bought the house right next door to my mom…haha

    sweetlife

  40. sophia says:

    Wait…when did you change your layout? I usually read your blog through Google Reader, so I missed it…but yay! Love your new layout. Just skip on over to wordpress soon, ok? ;-)

    Love the Easter bread…just wanna dig in with all fingers.

  41. Ann says:

    Ahhh cute memories, bravo on re-creating the bread!
    P.S. I enjoyed reading the fact about the neurones getting split up all over the brain, that sounds like the premise behind the movie “Memento” by the brilliantly brilliant Christopher Nolan. And by me remembering that obscure movie from 10 years ago itself is a proof of scattered neurones working. Joanne’s Easter bread (segue) -> Chris Nolan movie -> Hottie Mchottie actor (can’t remember the name) getting bashed in the head and remembers life in bits and pieces.
    I guess one neuron went missing on the actor’s name …

  42. Cristie says:

    Your bread is beautiful. I love the candies on top- so feastive! Fun new look for your blog.

  43. Kim says:

    I love the look of your new blog! The Easter bread look amazing. It kinda reminds me of the King Cake I made during Mardi Gras, which was delicious. I bet the cinnamon perfumes the entire loaf:D
    Very nice of you to make that for your family.

  44. Azita says:

    that’s a gorgeous bread! looks so good! love the new look of your blog!

  45. Kathleen says:

    Great story Joanne. Love your new look. The bread looks beautiful.

  46. theUngourmet says:

    Look at you over here with your fancy new blog design! Love it! I’ve always wanted to make this bread. It is just beautiful!

  47. Debinhawaii says:

    Your bread looks gorgeous and such a nice memory too (at least for you and your brother if not your Mom lol!).

    Love the new blog look too ;-)

  48. Velva says:

    Now, that is some delicious Easter bread.

    Thank God, my memories relocate and spreadout. :-)

  49. Shirley says:

    Cool template. Was wondering if I came to the wrong blog,till I saw your picture.

  50. ruchikacooks says:

    I like the new layout, for a second I thought I must be in the wrong place..bread and sprinkles look so cute and fluffy.

  51. Love your new digs … and bread with pretty sprinkles? Sign me up!

  52. Alisa says:

    Love the new look! So cute, just like the sprinkles :)

  53. Angie says:

    Great story, and good bread recipe, it looks delicious.

  54. Cynthia says:

    I know exactly what you mean Joanne! For me, food is about memories, and that’s half of what makes food so good! I love the new look of your blog! It’s super cheerful, just like you! =)

  55. Gulmohar says:

    Got to try baking an italian bread soon…:-) loved the sprinkles you used :D
    BTW loved the new look of your site

  56. Love the layout! The colors are great. This bread is great for any day, especially for brunch. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  57. Mimi says:

    Your new template is gorgeous! I’m toying with getting my own URL so I may be remodeling soon too. I hope i make as good of a choice as you did.

  58. Faith says:

    I love your new look! This bread looks soooo good…so light and fluffy…not to mention pretty with the sprinkles on top! (I’m a huge sprinkles fan…my fav ice cream is chocolate soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles. Really. ;) )

  59. MaryMoh says:

    Perfect homemade bread! The texture looks so fine and soft and the sprinkles just add to its beauty. I’m all thumbs up for homemade bread. Thanks for sharing, Joanne.

  60. thanks for this…I can’t wait to try it. I made an easter bread but it didn’t taste like what I remember…yours looks like it might be right on point.

  61. Erica says:

    What a beautiful cake!!!Looks perfect and I love the new look of your site :)

  62. Catherine says:

    Wonderful post Joanne! This bread looks delicious and so pretty!
    (BTW, I LOVE what you have done with the blog!)

  63. msmeanie says:

    Absolutely LOVE the new blog look. It looks fantastic and so does this bread!!

  64. dessert girl says:

    Cute and yummy! Sprinkles are the best, aren’t they? Love the new design of your site!

  65. I won’t lie to you Joanne. I have a secret. I am afrais of making my own bread. I have failed so many times that my negative bread memories are all piled up in my head. In a bad way. But we should meet up sometime and you can give me a bread-baking lesson. And I won’t be afraid anymore. Because you are such a good cook. And I absolutely adore old people, so your grandmother can come too!

    BTW, this is my first visit under your new layout and me likes. NO me loves!!! Who did it? I need a layout/header and don’t know where to find one :(

  66. tigerfish says:

    Seeing your new layout and design for your blog today. Very pretty :)

    The bread is also pretty and colorful!

    Wow! I am having an eye candy today :D

  67. new design?! LOVE IT!

    and YES! i know! nice normal guy! right?! apparently he parties A LOT. i kinda don’t know if/why he’d think i was really interesting…i do other things. and not party. =/ anyways, it was nice he remembered. most guys i come across don’t remember. well, today D was being extremely nice. after bashing B yesterday.

  68. Barbara says:

    Love your newly designed blog!! And the forsythia in the header…I ADORE forsythia!

  69. Andreas says:

    Well done on the bread.
    Glad that it tasted good, too.

  70. Nicole, RD says:

    How beautiful! Another recipe to make :)

  71. Stefanie says:

    The crumb looks super soft and fluffy! Beautiful done!
    I am always amazed how easy a certain smell or taste evoke memories. Smelling a certain perfume or the tasting red currant with sugar brings my grandma back to me in a second.

  72. Maris says:

    I’ve never heard of this bread but now, I officially wish I were Italian!

  73. Hannah says:

    What a fun, colorful loaf! I’ve never seen bread with rainbow sprinkles on it before, but I have a feeling that the kids would just love it. :)

  74. grace says:

    soft like a pillow, that’s what your loaf seems to be. cloud-like and a pleasure to eat, no doubt. even the sprinkles are perfect–it’s like they automatically make ya feel like a kid again. :)

  75. Raina says:

    Your bread looks so yummy! My grandmother also made an Easter bread every year which I loved and still do. I think your recipe looks great too and will have to try it.

  76. Wow I didn’t before but the way you explain it, long-term memory IS quite romantic. Love hearing about your family, too. Sounds like a lot of fun, and of course, this bread sounds and looks so delicious

  77. Martha (MM) says:

    Thanks for linking this up to my Easter party. It sure brings back good old family memories. Have a wonderful Easter Joanne! ((Hugs))

  78. I love being nostalgic about so many things too! And I love your memories of Easter! I didn’t make Easter bread this year due to it being the last week of Spring Semester and Final Exams. I hate it when this collides with Easter baking and festivities! I’m saving your recipe for the future! Buona Pasqua!!!

  79. Joanne, what you said about long-term memory was beautifully, poetic, and so true!

    Thank you for sharing some of your Easter memories along with the recipe for the wonderful bread!

    I saw your recipe over at Seaside Simplicity and wanted to extend the invitation to you to link-up your post to my “Easter Breads From Around the World” collection. Your recipe would make a wonderful adddition to the line-up. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/3kf5puo

    Warmest wishes,
    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  80. Jenn says:

    This post about brought tears to my eyes! Made me think about the dinner rolls my grandma used to make and how I need to get my hands on her recipe… Buona Pasqua!!

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