Easter Bread: Orange you glad that spring is here?

easter-bread

Someone posted this joke the other day. “Why is everyone so tired on April 1?”  “Because they just finished a 31-day March!”

Of course I giggled; it’s a cute joke, after all. Then my brain had to kick in and think. Wow, it really has been a long march to spring this year. How about you?

I know many of our baking friends suffered epic storms, power outages, wind, water, and sky raining down havoc. Here in New England the month of February only had 3 days of full sun. The rest were partially cloudy or overcast. That can really dull your senses and stifle your mind. Not in a good “Stifle, Edith!” way, but the “I don’t really feel like moving from this couch” way.

So, how are we to make this bad feeling better? Let’s go BAD in a big way.

Bad movie night? I’m in! Bad singing in the car? Crank up the tunes!

My call to you? Fill up the comments section with your best BAD jokes. Bad= clean, silly, eye-rolling, groaningly bad jokes. That’s right. Before you get to read the rest of the blog, I really want you to pop down and type up a great bad joke to share with the rest of us. Then come right back and get your reward. A step-by-step recipe  for a delightfully fragrant and ambrosial Easter bread, heady with mood-lifting citrus scents.

Ready? GO!

Okay, on you go to your prize!

This lovely bread does require an overnight starter. Grab your mixer  bowl and toss in:

1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup cool water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Cover lightly and leave out on the counter overnight.

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The next morning your starter will look bubbly and active, like a pancake just before flipping.

To the starter add:

2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons SAF Gold instant yeast, for best rise; or regular instant yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange oil
1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional
grated peel (zest) of 1 large orange

One thing (among many) that I truly love about our unbleached flour is that it has such good, fresh flavor. There’s no chemical taste to interfere with the other fragrant and delicious flavors you add to your recipes.

Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together.

See the little pieces of peel in the dough? Close your eyes and inhale and I bet you’ll be able to smell them, too.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours. Sweet and rich breads definitely take longer to rise, so patience is needed in planning.

Divide the dough into three equal-sized portions and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope.

Pinch the ends together, squeeze to a point, and tuck that point under the braid.

Confession time. Somehow I lost track of my braiding pictures for this bread. Luckily PJ had done a 3-stranded braid in a blog before, so with her permission I’ve used her photos instead. Thanks lady, you’re a lifesaver!

[Ed. note: "Computers are our friend." Sorry your photos were techno-ditched... PJ]

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To form the braid, bring one of the outer ropes over the center rope.

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Bring the opposite outer rope over the “new” inner rope (which used to be the outer rope). Get it?

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Repeat, switching from side to side and always bringing an outside rope over the center rope. If you’ve ever braided hair, or rope or wire, it’s the same motions.

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You’ll end up with a very long, slim braid.

Curve the straight braid to a ring and pinch the ends to seal.

Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours (again, SAF Gold will work faster).

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the wreath for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F.

Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.

When the braid is cool or just barely warm, make the glaze and/or decorate the bread.

Stir together 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.

Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired. These little colored nonpareils make for a very festive look and might remind you of Italian struffoli, that honey-sweet confection that also appears at Eastertime.

Here’s to spring colors, warm breezes and, as always, happy baking!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Easter Bread Wreath.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie

    I have a bottle of Fiori di Sicilia that I’ve never used because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, now I know!

    You can use it in just about anything, don’t be afraid to experiment with your flavorings!-Jon

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    If I were going to make this for Easter morning, would you suggest an overnight rise with the shaped wreath or parbaking it (and even freezing ahead of time) and finishing up in the morning?

    I would personally go for the overnight rise for this recipe, that way it can be freshly baked!-Jon

    Reply
  3. susan_c

    You really want bad jokes? OK: Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the possum it could be done.

    When the weather is dreary, I bake, which is why I’ve made cakes, cookies, scones, English muffins, and croissants recently. I need some good weather to get outdoors and get some exercise now. However, today is dreary too so maybe I’ll make Easter bread

    Dreary days are the best days to bake on, and we have had a lot of them!-Jon

    Reply
  4. Diana Foss

    What’s brown and sticky? A stick!

    I’m always looking for recipes that capture a true orange flavor, so thank you!

    Oh gosh, I thought for certain that the answer was going to be Nutella!-Jon

    Reply
  5. "Anna M"

    What did the man say when there was a herd of elephants chasing him?
    “There’s a herd of elephants chasing me.”
    What did the man say when there was a herd of elephants wearing sunglasses chasing him?
    He didn’t recognize them.

    Reply
  6. chezsam

    What color is a guitar?
    Plink

    Tomorrow will be snowy and I wasn’t going to bake my Artisan French bread because I have so many loaves already frozen. Now I’ll try this Easter Bread instead. It starts with the same Poolish just half as much. Love to know there are alternatives to bread with starters like this. I always use ADY too. I have all three kinds but my faith is always in the active dry. Thank you. Love this website.

    I am sure you will love this bread!-Jon

    Reply
  7. Quill

    How do you know that an elephant has been in your refrigerator? — The footprints in the butter.

    Why are elephants wrinkled? — Have you ever tried to iron one?

    How many elephants are there on a Nurndy team? — Eleven. Two borks, six forwards, two wopplers, and a goalie.

    Why are elephants so much better at Nurndy than humans? — Because they wopple better.

    Reply
  8. cakestand

    Two Hydrogen atoms meet. One says, “I’ve lost my electron.” The other asks, “Are you sure?” The first replies, “Yes, I’m positive.”

    I always admire the looks of braided breads. They’re fun to make.

    They certainly are!-Jon

    Reply
  9. Kalica

    A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Hey, you can’t be in here”. The mushroom says, “Why not? I’m a ‘fungi’.”

    Reply
  10. dyonia

    You want bad jokes? I’ve got plenty, courtesy of my 9-year-old :-)

    Q: What do you call an elephant in a telephone booth?
    A: Stuck!!

    I’m baking bread bowls and making soup today. It is rainy and cold here in Arizona, but nothing like what folks elsewhere have been dealing with this season! Keep warm!

    Mmm, a bread bowl and some soup sounds good right about now.-Jon

    Reply
  11. sschinnock

    There’s this duck on a pond, and he’s getting really angry at this other duck who’s coming on to his girl, so he decides to hire an assassin duck to bump him off. So the assassin arrives, and the duck meets him in some reeds. The assassin tells him that it will cost five pieces of bread to kill the target, payable after the deed is done. The duck tells him that’s fine and the assassin says, “No, just send me the bill.”

    Drizzling in Las Vegas now. Think I’ll practice baking this bread for our Oestara celebration. Should warm up the house and make it smell yummy.

    This recipe will certainly do just that!-Jon

    Reply
  12. marguerite

    How do you do an overnight rise with the shaped wreath?

    Well you will have to allow the wreath to rise on your baking pan. Cover the wreath (lightly) with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with cooking spray and allow the dough to rise overnight in your refrigerator.-Jon

    Reply
  13. mumpy

    what do you call a horse with no ears?
    doesn’t matter, he can’t hear you!

    what’s the ratio of the diameter of an igloo to the circumference?
    eskimo pi.

    Reply
  14. beckilynnhenderson

    Two muffins are in the oven. One muffin says to the other, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”
    The other one says, “Holy cow! A talking muffin!”

    Hahaha, very funny!-Jon

    Reply
  15. maryjobo

    Q: Do females frogs croak?
    A: If you hold their little heads underwater long enough they do!

    Great recipe, but I always have such a hard time trying to get the ends to stay together when I form a circle. I’ve tried pinching them as tight as possible, overlapping them, and even “sewing” them together with toothpicks but they ALWAYS come apart and look stupid. What’s the secret?

    I would brush the ends with a little bit of water if you are having trouble with them sticking. When you press the ends together, the water will act as a glue.-Jon

    Reply
  16. Anneripp

    How do Congresscritters really earn their livings?

    They’re poll dancers!

    From a middle school neighbor, who doubled up with laughter.

    That is a pretty witty joke for someone that young!-Jon

    Reply
  17. ColoradoChuck

    I came for a recipe…
    …and all I got was this crumb-y bread…

    But seriously folks…

    What did the poker-playing yeast say to the other ingredients around the table?

    I’LL RAISE YOU…

    (sorry, Jon, I’ll stop now…)

    Oh don’t stop on my behalf. I love a good pun!-Jon

    Reply
  18. Tonia

    Man walks into a bar and asks for a drink. While he’s waiting he hears, “My, you are so handsome!” He looks around and sees no one. Soon he hears, “Hey, you really are a great guy!” Again, the man looks around and sees no one. “Mister, I really like your tie!” By now the man is seriously uneasy — there is no one else in the bar. Just then the bar tender comes back with his drink and the man says, “Boy, do I need that drink! I keep hearing compliments, but no one is around!” “Oh,” the bartender replies, “Those are just our complimentary nuts!”
    Bwaa haaa haaa! This one is new to me. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  19. D

    Just going over the ingredient list….. Yep!!! Got them all. So before I head to the kitchen…

    A grasshopper walks into a bar. The bartender says “Hey! We server a drink name after you! The grasshopper says “You serve a drink named Steve?!??”
    mmm, I could use an icy cold Steve right about now. ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. gsmom727

    What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
    –a stick!
    hee hee, that means my front yard is full of defective boomerangs. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. Ted

    Um…I bet this bread taste great, but I don’t have mixer and have to make bread with a wooden spoon and my hands. Could you offer some suggestions for making this dough “by hand”? Or will it be just so frustrating that it would be better to use a different recipe — in which case, can you suggest one? (It’ll need some flavouring alterations, of course!) Thank you.
    This dough would be really tricky to make by hand. I think that our Spring Sweet Bread could be nicely modified though, with the orange and fiori. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  22. Elaine

    A guy walks into a bar……ouch.

    Sorry, vitamin D deprived brain cells can’t do much better. Now back to your blog!

    Reply
  23. MelissaP

    Knock, knock
    Who’s there?
    The Interrupting Sheep.
    The Interrup—
    Baaa!

    I’ve always enjoyed making braids but haven’t done it for a while. Time to brush up on my skills!

    Reply
  24. "Mary Cay"

    One spring morning,two flies buzz into a grocery store to check out the produce section,Right in the front of the store they see this big display- fly swatters.bug bombs,roach motels (you get the picture).The one fly says to the other “My,my,my!Such hatred in the world today!”This is one I taught my sons when one of their middle school teachers declared she knew every joke in existence. The bread looks amazing,but my family turns up their collective noses at anything orange flavored!

    !

    Reply
  25. mstebby

    knock knock
    whose there?
    Wooden Shoe
    Wooden Shoe Who?
    Wooden-shoe like to hear a good knock knock joke?

    My kids love that one. My daughter told it to Goofy at Disneyworld last year and he feel to the ground laughing. It was awesome.

    Haha I can see why he laughed so much! It is a pretty cute knock-knock joke.-Jon

    Reply
  26. Bridgid

    Appropos for this post:

    Knock Knock
    Who is there?
    Orange
    Orange who?
    Knock Knock
    Who is there?
    Orange
    Orange who?
    Knock Knock
    Who is there?
    Banana
    Banana who?
    Orange you glad I didn’t say orange again?

    Reply
  27. msawyer

    Three men walked into a bar………..The fourth one ducked.

    Love this bread! It turned out okay, but my starter didn’t look anything like yours. Here in So Cal, we have very low humidity and I find with most batters and doughs I need to add a little more moisture. Forgot to do that this time, but it was still so tasty I’ll make it again – hoping for some bubbles this time.

    Reply
  28. "N'awlins Darlin'"

    I’m a few days late, but there are never enough bad jokes!

    What do you call a cow with no legs?
    Ground beef.
    It is never too late for adding to the giggles. Thanks for stopping by! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. Emily H.

    Can I use orange extract instead of orange oil?
    Yes, you can use extract instead. Use about 1/4 more extract than oil. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  30. glpruett

    I love citrus, this bread looks great, and I’m having a friend over tomorrow morning for a visit so the timing is perfect! I’m off to the kitchen to make the starter now…
    One question: I have the stoneware ring pan sold by KAF. Would it be a good idea to bake it in that, to help preserve the perfect ring shape? It’s a fairly shallow pan, so I never quite know just what size recipe fits the pan best. Would this one work?

    Sorry, I’m fresh out of jokes, but I certainly enjoyed reading all of the ones that readers came up with!
    We’ll forgive you just this once for not leaving a joke, but just this once. This is a pretty hefty sized braid, and I wondered too about the ring pan. I honestly think it is a bit too small for this braid, so I’d say stay with the baking sheet this time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  31. glpruett

    Another question…when I mixed up my starter, after weighing 4.25 ounces of KAF all-purpose flour, 1/8 tsp. instant yeast and 4 ounces of water, I was surprised at how thick the dough was! Usually when I make a starter, it is much more liquid, batter-like in consistency rather than dough-like. Since I weighed my ingredients, I know I didn’t over measure the flour. Now, it is STILL winter here in northeast Ohio, and I notice that it’s only 29% humidity in the house. So, should I add more water to my starter mixture, or is it really supposed to look like dough? Help!!! And…thanks in advance!

    We encourage people to adjust the starter as needed to ensure the consistency is just what it should be. You are welcome to add 1-2 Tbs of water more if you find the starter to be too thick, but bear in mind that the mixture will thin down a bit as it rests so be a bit cautious! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  32. Nicola

    Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
    A. To prove to the squirrels, opossums and skunks that it can be done!

    Reply
  33. cheryld

    This version looks very similar to the traditional braid my Italian family makes. I hadn’t thought about using Fiori di Sicilia for this, but I imagine it would be perfect. Fiori is heavenly!

    It certainly fits this so well! I also like to use a drop in my whipped cream for shortcakes for a little Italian “pop”! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  34. Kristen

    So for Easter, should I make the starter Friday night, then add the remaining ingredients on Saturday, rise in fridge Saturday night, bake off on Sunday? Will that work? Thanks!

    Why did the chicken cross the playground?
    To get to the other slide.

    Great Chicken-Joke! Tee hee! You are spot-on about getting the dough ready in advance of Sunday: just be sure to let the rolls rise at room temperature before baking on Sunday until they just barely double in size and get nice and puffy: the cool dough will take a bit longer to get going, so allow for twice the amount of time to rise. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  35. manoa27

    I have a question – is this bread supposed to be rather dry? Or perhaps my oven temp is off. Would adding a little more water to the starter give me a moister result?
    If it seems a bit on the dry side, perhaps you measured too much flour per cup? Take a look here for how to measure flour, how to measure flour Yes, if your starter is thicker than pancake batter, you may add more water to the starter or make the adjustments with the final dough. Also, do not knead any excess flour into the dough or only as little as possible. Too much flour will yield a drier product. We hope you will try again! Elisabeth

    Reply
  36. Nell

    My mother would make Portuguese sweetbread every Easter with King Arthur flour. She passed away 13 yrs. ago and this Easter I made my first patch of Portuguese sweetbread with of course, King Arthur flour. Thanks for the memories.

    It is great to hear that you are continuing your mother’s tradition, Happy Easter!-Jon

    Reply
  37. volprincess

    So good! This is lighter and I think better than the one I grew up with (shhh, don’t tell my mom that this is my new recipe). I added a little fiori to the batter. Thanks for this one!

    Glad you enjoyed it – Happy Easter! PJH

    Reply
  38. Gail

    In honor of the 1-year anniversary of this post, upon which I’ve come a day late and a dime short (or a year late and an egg short?)…

    …why did the Indian live in a tent? To keep his wigwam.

    …did you hear about the fire in the shoe factory? A thousand souls were lost!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Laura, lay a piece of aluminum foil atop the bread in the oven, without tucking it down anywhere; that’s “tenting.” PJH

  39. Jacquie

    A frog looking for a loan walks into a bank and goes to the loan officer Mr Pattywhack. Mr Pattywhack asks for collateral so the frog hands him a trinket. Mr Pattywhack says it is no good. The bank president comes over, looks at the trinket and says,” it’s a knick knack Pattywhack, give the frog a loan.” funny….right?

    Reply
  40. Diane Hagopian

    Can I make this in my Kitchen Aid 7 qt. mixer? I would think it should be o.k. my grandchildren love this knock knock joke – loved all the jokes tonite

    Knock Knock
    who’s there
    Olive
    Olive who
    Olive you

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If the shaped bread looks fully proofed in the morning, please put it directly in the oven from the refrigerator.~Jaydl@KAF

  41. pianogrl

    Why did the lobster blush?
    Because the sea weed…
    (sorry, that’s what I get for being a BBC addict…old Vicar of Dibley shows!). =D

    Anyway…how long can the starter rise? Could I put it in the fridge? I may not be able to bake for 24 hours.
    Thanks!! Love this blog…it makes this displaced New Englander feel connected to home again! :)

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Hi there,
      heee heee, love that joke!

      The starter can rise on the counter for about 12 hours, or overnight in the fridge. You can also make the dough ahead of time and place that in the fridge for up to 24 hours for a really nice slow rise.
      Happy New England(sorta) Baking! ~ MJ

  42. Marisa Stewart

    Do you have a tutorial on how to get the braids to join at the end? I benched and scaled the strands — they were perfect as a braid, then when I went to join the ends I made a mess. Nothing seemed to join in a continuous manner. I gave up — mad two strands and just twisted. I really wanted to make a braided wreath.

    Reply

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