Friday, April 22

Happy Easter (Bread)!

This week has me feeling the warmth of family traditions, all 2000 miles away from home.  I can pretty much bet my left arm that my favorite little women on the left coast are busily preparing their treasured loaves of Easter Bread - the holy grail of recipes passed down from the family monarchy.  In my lifetime, not a single Easter in Ruffo history has gone by without it.  Even though this week marks a time of revival, I relish in it's familiarity and tradition.  It's the kind of steadfast change I love; the season is new, but predictable.

You must know, I'm a huge wimp when it comes to big changes in my life.  Unlike otherwise grounded people, it takes me a while to get used to an idea before I can fully commit.  I liken it to hearing a new song for the first time.  I usually hate it the first three times I listen to it, but after that it's pure unwavering love.

 I'm not sure why buying a house scares the bejesus out of me -it's not like I'm the first person to buy one.  Then I think back to risks I've taken in my life that paid off in a huge way.  Like my move to San Diego when I was eighteen, bushy-tailed and had $5 to my name.  Then came Nashville and I never imagined things could be this good.  I think that's probably how life goes most of the time.  You never really know how things will turn out, but you have to take the risk to see the magic in it all.

I think I've listened to this song long enough to know that buying this house (did I mention we're in escrow?!) will only open my world up to more good things.  Instead of running the opposite direction like I sometimes prefer to do, I'm ready to get my hands dirty (hello, garden!) and fully commit.  So this weekend, as I enjoy my nonpareil Easter bread while relishing in the festivities, I'll be envisioning all the memories we'll be making in our new home.  Our home (and do my best not to have a debilitating attack of anxiety).  Good thing there'll be mimosas.         

This recipe was perfected by my mom and sister one Easter, when they left the eggs in the mixer for ten minutes by accident.  It made this normally dense bread light and airy.  You can substitute the anise for almond extract if you shy away from it's distinctive flavor.  We typically cover it in sprinkles, but I love the addition of lavender buds and lemon zest instead.  It's best enjoyed warm, slathered with butter and leftover (and slightly melted) frosting.  Happy Easter (Bread)!  

Easter Bread 
Makes 2 large loaves and 1 small (perfect amount for an addict; maybe halve for your first time)

8 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cube butter, melted 
8 large room temperature eggs, warmed in bowl of water 
3 packages quick acting yeast 
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups warm water (stick your finger under your tongue and use this as your temperature gauge -you want the water to be the same temperature)
2 tablespoons anise extract 
Zest of 1 large lemon 

Preheat oven to warm; place two empty bread pans in warmed oven.

Crack eggs into large measuring cup.  Add warm water to measuring cup to equal 2 cups total liquid between eggs and water (this will be a minimal amount). 
Beat egg and water mixture about 10 minutes until super fluffy.
Mix in sugar; add butter. 
Add what's remaining of 2 cups warm water; slowly mix in 4 cups of flour.  
Add salt, yeast, lemon rind, vanilla and anise. 
Slowly add the rest of flour and mix. 

Turn off warmed oven.  Remove warm pans and fill about ½ way full. Place pans back in oven and let rise until just reaching the top of pans, but not overflowing -about an hour and a half.

Remove and preheat oven to 350.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. 

Cool on racks and remove from pans. 

1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla 
1 stick butter, softened 

Mix all ingredients until a creamy consistency has formed, about 5 minutes. 
Spread evenly over bread.  Cover with sprinkles, or lavender buds and lemon zest.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your family's tradition. You've been talking about this bread for as long as I've know you and I have always wanted to try it. Perhaps this will be my contribution to the generous family who invited me to share in their family's Easter celebration. Love and miss you!