Easter was in the air the week I visited with Dado and Jacqueline Colussi in Chicago and Jacqueline baked these two gorgeous breads with the holiday in mind. She used beets to color the eggs. The formula is one of the sample ones included with the BreadStorm software.
- I find scaling the yield to 650 g is a nice size for a 3- or 4-strand braided loaf.
- Syrup: In a saucepan, combine the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, and the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Egg Mixture: Whisk together the eggs and sour cream. Set aside.
- Dry Ingredients: Sift together the flour and the yeast.
- Mixing: Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature, whisk it into the egg mixture. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead vigorously by hand for 5 minutes, or until gluten develops.
- Bulk Fermentation: Cover the dough with a cloth. Ferment for 1 hour. Punch down. Ferment for a second hour.
- Shaping: The dough is ideal for braiding, and works well as a 2-strand twist, or a 3-, 4-, or 5-strand braid.
- Proofing: Proof the loaf under a cloth for 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the ambient room temperature.
- Pre-heating: Pre-heat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C).
- Egg Wash: With a fork, whisk together the egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and a few drops of water. Just before baking the loaf, brush it with egg wash up to 3 times. This will give the loaf a shiny, mahogany crust. (Leftover egg wash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
- Baking: Just before placing the loaf in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 380˚F (195˚C). Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. Cool completely before slicing.
- Jacqueline’s egg bread is based on a taste memory (her grandma used to make it). She wanted consistency of a challah without the kosher constraints. So there are eggs and butter in it.
- Jacqueline likes to experiment with different sugars. In this version of the egg bread, she used muscovado sugar (which explains the pale brown color of the dough). She normally uses 16% turbinado sugar. She seems to remember that she reduced the sugar amount to 10% in this version because the muscovado is much more flavorful than the turbinado but it could have been 12%.
- The eggs were dyed with beet dripping (from peeling cooked beets). Jacqueline hard-boiled them in that liquid with a splash of vinegar.
- Jacqueline found the dough stickier than usual. Maybe because muscovado sugar absorbs water differently?
- She used the Craig Ponsford technique of egg-washing the proofed loaves dough three times, letting them dry in between. The method locks the steam in and yields a gorgeous gloss.