Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bread

As spring arrives, Gudiya eagerly awaits Easter. We have Easter Egg hunt in our neighborhood. Gudiya loves to go hunting for Easter eggs with her friends. The colorful, plastic Easter eggs are scattered around the Easter Egg patch. Kids run amok to grab as many eggs as they can. These plastic eggs are then cracked open (they have a hinge) and there are candies inside. Generally, an Easter bunny makes an appearance for a photo opportunity.

As soon as Gudiya comes home, she carefully counts her loot and I the -self appointed sugar police, keep the candies away, promising her that I would give her once a week or so, while jabbering how sugar is bad for health. I sometimes feel bad for it but if I don't control it, there are so many ways that excess sugar can enter my child's body, that I don't mind being the bad cop.

Gudiya wanted to bake an Easter Cake. But I didn't want anything with too much sugar or butter. So we zeroed on Easter Bread instead. I found a recipe from Cooking Light Magazine that describes it as - "Russian immigrants gloried in Easter babkas - enriched yeast breads studded with dried fruits and nuts. For a more traditional babka, omit the amaretto and use dried sour cherries and candied cherries in place of cranberries and raisins."

Easter Bread - Babka
1 cup tutti fruti

1 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract

  1.  Heat milk over medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in sour cream. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water, and let stand 5 minutes. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until thick and pale (about 2 minutes). Add milk mixture, yeast mixture, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tsp grated lemon zest and salt; beat until well blended.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 5 1/2 cups flour to egg mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
  4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  5. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Knead tutti frutti, and almonds into dough. With floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Form a 2-inch hole in center of dough; place dough in prepared pan, allowing center of Bundt pan to emerge through hole in dough. Gently press the dough into pan. Lightly coat top of dough with cooking spray; cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°.
  7. Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.
  8. To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring with a whisk. Remove babka from pan, and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with icing; cool completely.

Note -
1. I used tutti frutti instead of raisins and cranberries
2. I used vanilla extract and lemon zest for a fresh flavor. I didn't have almond extract as the original recipe below suggests.

Judith Fertig,

Easter Bunny's visit

Happy Easter!
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