As Easter season is upon us here in Hickery Holler we see the return of the eggs. Our chickens lay sparingly in the cold, dark, short days of winter and during molting. We could put a light on the chickens all winter but instead of incurring that expense we simply eat fewer eggs and let the chickens have a rest too.
Once the days lengthen and the sun begins to shine in early spring my refrigerator again fills with eggs. As a general rule enough for me to cook, enough to hatch meat birds to can in the fall and then enough for the neighbors that choose to purchase them. I think it is no coincidence that eggs play such a prominent role in Easter foods and activities considering the holiday falls at exactly the time that the hens start to go into full production and before any of them get broody and set.
The eggs pictured above are turkey eggs waiting to be put in the incubator. Turkey eggs by the way are very rich and are great for baking cakes and such. Same with goose and duck eggs. Guinea eggs are also great as a substitute for chicken eggs either boiled or prepared for breakfast scrambled.
With plenty of eggs being produced I thought I would bake some egg bread for Easter. I wanted some to freeze because it make the best french toast ever. Many cultures have this type of bread in their Easter/Passover celebrations. The Jewish have a similar eggs based bread called Challah. Where I grew up outside New Orleans the french influence abounded and you saw a french egg sweet bread called brioche. All of these breads are rich in eggs which would be plentiful this time of year. Butter which would also be plentiful since most calves on a farm are planned for the spring. Therefore the cows would be milking making both cream and butter plentiful and easily accessible.
So I decided to share my Egg Bread recipe. This recipe makes two large braided loaves.
EGG BREAD2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
6 eggs room temperature
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water (110 degrees F )
I add a tbs of the sugar to this to feed the yeast. Let yeast sit and rise or proof.
Once yeast has formed a thick foam add 6 eggs, softened butter cut into chunks, remaining sugar, and salt.
Add about 3 cups of the flour and stir to make a soft sticky dough. Turn onto floured surface gradually add remaining flour while kneading until smooth and elastic. I knead about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a well buttered bowl and allow to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. Then I punch down and let it rise a second time until again doubled in size.
Punch down and divide dough in half. Divide each half into the pieces and each half should make three strands about 10 to 12 inches long. Braid the three strands to make a loaf. Then braid the remaining three strands to make a second loaf.
Combine that last remaining egg ( number 7) and a pinch of salt and beat together. Place braided loaves on individual baking sheets that have been greased. Brush each loaf with egg and salt solution. Allow loaf to double in size. Brush with egg yolk solution a second time once the dough is ready to go into the oven. Sesame or poppy seeds may be added on top at this time if desired.
Place baking sheets in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. Watch closely.
Turn out once browned and allow to cool.
I then brush mine with melted butter.
I sliced one loaf and froze the slices to make oven french toast on Easter.
Baby O had french toast for breakfast the next day. She has tested and approved this recipe.....
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter