easter bread + family traditions
If you were to peek into my life it would be fairly obvious that I enjoy parties. Most of the time there are events or reasons that prompt them, but easily half the other times there are not. Happy Birthday! Let's have a party. Congrats on your new job! Dinner to celebrate. You did the laundry? Let's eat cake. On it goes.
This is 100% attributed to my parents who instilled in me a love of making people feel celebrated. Birthdays were a big deal; an all hands on deck situation making banners and cards and planning the special things you got to do (like eat lunch at McDonald's and ride shotgun all day). Every holiday came with fun traditions my parents created, lots of them involving food and or gifts (because I am the daughter to the real life Leslie Knope gift giver extraordinaire). I loved this so much as a kid and to be honest yes I did throw a fit when my mom stopped filling our stockings and hiding Easter baskets like 3 years ago. Fine, do it for the grand-kids and not your actual children. I've been spoiled, I can admit.
One of my favorite parts of having a family is working to create an atmosphere of tradition and celebration in our home. I think ritual is something that is fading away in our culture. Instead of being rooted in anything we are drawn to the trends and trading substance for flash. I am definitely guilty of this but I am seeking to remember. I want Cash to taste my great-grandmother's pasta sauce, to sit down on Christmas eve just like I did to his dad reading the story of Jesus' birth, to celebrate and care for others well.
I want to be remembered as a mom who cared about the big and the small. The victories and defeats. While baking a cake when someone fails a test or has to get stitches is not the ultimate answer, I know that my enjoyment and heart behind cooking for others is one of service and that is honoring to my talents. Have the hard conversations, bring the encouragement, cry all the tears- happy or sad. Then eat dessert.
I know there are plenty of you that didn't grow up with much tradition. You have such an amazing opportunity to begin. A blank slate to instill sweet meaning and memories that will hopefully continue on and on. I also need to say that on many occasions my expectations on this front have caused some chaos. As in I married a man with little to no traditions and or desire to celebrate. But we will save that discussion for another day.
So I wonder, what are some of your favorite traditions or ways to celebrate? The hard stuff and the good stuff.
And on we go with a real life food tradition. My mom visited this weekend and I essentially forced her to make this bread with/for me since we won't be together for Easter this year. It's a traditional Italian bread that is made with lots of eggs, a hint of anise, and a whole lot of kneading. I don't love anise flavoring but man it just works in here. Give it a hefty load of sugary glaze and some sprinkles? Heaven.
Italian Easter Bread
- 5 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 Tbs anise extract
- 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water with 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus up to 2 more for kneading
- 2 cups bread flour
Dissolve yeast in water and sugar, set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer add eggs and beat slightly. Add sugar until incorporated then pour in oil, milk, anise, and the foaming yeast mixture.
Add flours then let stand for 10 minutes. Knead dough on a well floured surface for 8-10 minutes, adding flour as you go until your dough is no longer sticky and is very smooth. Let rise in a greased bowl covered with a dish towel for about two hours or until doubled in size. Separate dough into three greased loaf pans or make two large braided loaves then re-cover with the towel and allow to double in size again. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes.
You can eat as is but we love adding a simple glaze and a healthy dose of sprinkles. For the frosting mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1-2 Tbsp milk depending on what consistency you want.
We've been eating this toasted with butter all week and lets just say ill be real bummed when it's gone.