Portuguese Easter Bread Recipe
Makes 1 large bread, or 2 medium
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 warm water. Lightly sprinkle 1 tablespoon dry yeast over the mixture. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, and cubed butter. Mix on low speed to combine. Add in the eggs, sugar, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, lemon extract, and yeast mixture. Mix on low speed to combine. Mixture will be slightly wet. Switch to dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. You may need to add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time during mixing if the dough feels too wet. You want to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, and tacky but not sticky.
- Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil. Shape dough into a ball, put into the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draught free area (I put into my oven with light turned on), for about 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, bring 4 eggs (brown or white), salt, and peel of 2 yellow onions to a boil in a medium saucepan. The onion skin acts as a natural way to colour the white eggs brown, or enhance a brown egg. Once boiling turn off heat and allow eggs to sit for about 10 minutes. Remove eggs from water, and reserve.
- Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If using a baking stone, put in oven to preheat, or brush an upside down baking sheet with butter or oil. Reserve a small amount of dough, about 1/2 cup, to make cross decoration. Knead the remaining dough a few times to get the air out. Shape into a circle and gently press the unpeeled hardboiled eggs into the dough. Create 2 long, flat pieces of dough to place over the eggs. Place the dough strips over the eggs and press the ends into the round dough to create a cross.
- Brush the entire top of the dough with the egg wash.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and there is a hollow sound when tapped. Set aside to cool.
- Storage: 3 days wrapped at room temperature, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.
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