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Celebrating Easter:
Braided Easter Bread

This project is a little involved, but the results are worth it. In addition to being very tasty, it has a lit of visual appeal and can be used as the center piece on a dinner table or buffet spread. Best of all, the kids can say I made it!

Ingredients :

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
6 soft-boiled, dyed eggs (nontoxic dyes only)
1 egg
1 tsp. water

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and heat until just warm.

Pour the mixture into the bowl with the yeast.

Add the sugar, eggs and salt, and stir well.

Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough is formed.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, adding flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Knead until it becomes elastic.

Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down the dough. Divide it into three equal parts and roll each piece into a 20-inch-long strand.

Lay the strands side by side and gently braid them. (To avoid tearing the dough, braid from the middle out to an end; repeat with the other side.)

Place the woven dough in a wreath shape on a greased cookie sheet, tucking the ends under. Sink the eggs into the dough.

Cover and let rise until double in size.

Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush the wash over the dough.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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