Spring Fever

Enjoy loafing with a creative recipe for Easter bread and be tempted by a devilish salad to make the most of your Easter eggs.



Most of my food traditions originated on my mother’s side of the family.  We lived with my grandmother, and so the Sicilian influence was everywhere in our daily lives and at most of our meals. Escarole and eggplant, toasted breadcrumbs and the sweet and sour interplay of flavors were the building blocks of our cuisine, and we used nothing but pecorino for grating cheese.Chris Fennimore

My father’s family was much more Americanized, and his older sisters were more known for their German and Polish dishes than for Italian specialties. One of my favorites was Aunt Mary’s Easter breads. As kids, we were fascinated by these beautifully browned and decorated loaves that nestled colored eggs in their braided folds. There were large, circular loaves and also little individual loaves that resembled either a nest or a basket and contained a single egg. We loved the bread and hated the eggs.

The egg with its promise of new life is an ancient symbol for the season of spring, and it shows up in the Hebraic and Christian traditions for Passover and Easter. Coloring eggs for the holiday is so popular that almost a billion eggs will be sold during the week before Easter. That’s a lot of yolks, folks.

Throughout the years I’ve adapted a simple egg-bread recipe to include a light anise flavor. This dough is simple to prepare and braids easily into a variety of shapes. The loaves come out pretty as a picture, but don’t hesitate to slice them up for delicious toast and turn those eggs into a tasty spread.


Photography by Laura Petrilla

EASTER BREAD

1/2 cup lukewarm water (110 degrees)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon anise seeds
6 cups flour, divided
1 tablespoon salt
2 eggs
6 colored eggs, uncooked
1 egg beaten


Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the warm water. Scald the milk and remove the skin that forms on top. Stir in the butter and sugar and anise seeds until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Let cool to 100 degrees.

Mix 4 cups of the flour with 1 tablespoon of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk mixture, yeast mixture and 2 eggs. Use the paddle beater to form a loose batter. Beat for 3 to 4 minutes on low. Switch to the dough hook and add another cup of flour. Set machine on low to incorporate the flour. Continue mixing for another minute or so until all the flour is incorporated. Add the remaining flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to clean the side of the bowl.

Continue kneading for another 3 to 4 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch and is smooth and shiny. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 3 pieces. Roll out each piece into a long rope. Braid the 3 ropes and then attach the ends to form a circle. Place the circle onto a parchment-lined pan. Insert the colored eggs at regular intervals into the folds of the braid. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf once more with beaten egg and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is deep golden-brown and a thermometer registers 200 degrees. Remove to a rack to cool.

You can also shape the dough into individual nests or baskets containing 1 egg each.


 


 

 

 

 


COCONUT MACAROONS

They may be traditional for Passover because they contain no flour and no leavening. But the name is actually derived from the Italian “macaronne” meaning a fine paste. The simplest versions are made with nothing more than finely ground nuts, egg whites and sugar. This recipe adds some shredded and toasted coconut for some extra flavor and chew.

4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
8 ounces shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut out on a tray and toast lightly in the oven or in your toaster. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the salt and half the sugar and continue to beat. Add the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Fold in the toasted coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. You want them slightly crispy on the outside but soft and chewy in the center. These are best served on the day you make them but they will last for a few days in an airtight container.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

‘The Chainsmokers’ Forgot Spellcheck for Pittsburgh Concert

‘The Chainsmokers’ Forgot Spellcheck for Pittsburgh Concert

A mistake at the end of the duo's sold-out show earned them some good-natured teasing on social media.
So Where are the Best 'Burbs in the Pittsburgh Area?

So Where are the Best 'Burbs in the Pittsburgh Area?

Pittsburgh-based Niche crunched a whole lot of data to rank the best suburbs in the country, the state, and around here.
Affordable Housing Part of Civic Arena Site Redevelopment

Affordable Housing Part of Civic Arena Site Redevelopment

The Pittsburgh Penguins and a St. Louis developer hope to eventually build 1,000 residential units near PPG Paints Arena.
Watch: Phil Kessel has a Mini-Me – And He's Too Cute

Watch: Phil Kessel has a Mini-Me – And He's Too Cute

Have the Pens have found their new meme for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


‘The Chainsmokers’ Forgot Spellcheck for Pittsburgh Concert

‘The Chainsmokers’ Forgot Spellcheck for Pittsburgh Concert

A mistake at the end of the duo's sold-out show earned them some good-natured teasing on social media.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

The latest outpost of the small, Wexford-born chain isn't flashy, but offers good beer and grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A Life Well Lived: Dan Rooney's Humility and Humanity

A Life Well Lived: Dan Rooney's Humility and Humanity

Delivering the Homily at Rooney's funeral, Cardinal Donald Wuerl acknowledged a longstanding Rooney philosophical belief: “You can get anything done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

Reviews of "Free Fire," "Unforgettable" and "The Promise," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Planning Proposals: The Element of Surprise

Planning Proposals: The Element of Surprise

This couple’s proposal story really takes the cake.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments