It’s time for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge! We were asked to make Easter bread; either one of the recipes provided, or the one that’s made typically in our country. I went with the latter cause I had been wanting to make this bread; I had made it a couple times at school last year, but never at home.
We call it rosca de pascua (Easter wreath), and it’s very simple, but so good!
This bread is sold everywhere when Easter time rolls around, but sadly some storebough versions aren’t that good, and people sometimes forget how yummy it is when it’s fresh and made with love and real ingredients.
And now, you can make it too :)
It starts off with a dough flavored with lemon and vanilla, and enriched with butter and eggs. The sponge should be made 1 or 2 hours in advance, so plan ahead. Once the dough is ready you’ll want to form a nice, smooth ball, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Then comes the fun part: stick your elbow in the middle of the dough to create a hole, then pass your hand through the hole and start turning the dough until you get a pretty wreath form (try to make the width consistent).
After that, you’ll want to let it rise until it’s nice and puffy. Meanwhile, make your pastry cream. Making pastry cream is really easy, so don’t worry about it. And it’s so good as well. Pretty much like custard, but a little thicker in this case. Although, not as socially accepted to eat it by the spoonful; or pastrybagful in this case. But I won’t tell :)
And here you have two options: you can add the pastry cream before or after baking. Many people add it before baking, I guess to be extra food safe since you’re cooking the pastry cream twice? I don’t know. But I recommend that you add it after baking, because otherwise you’ll only be able to use a little pastry cream, or the dough would sink under it’s weight.
And yes, I know I added most of it before baking, but the dough was still a bit cold from the fridge (another no-no) so it didn’t collapse. Remember: do as I say…
Anyway, once your wreath is nice and baked, you’ll want to brush it with syrup for a little shine, and add your decorations. What we normally use here are glace cherries and a special kind of sugar that comes in tiny clumps. According to my online research, you may know it as pearl or nib sugar. Also, some people use candied figs… I’ll pass on those.
Oh, and in case your wondering what’s the Eastery part of this recipe. Like many other Easter breads, it used to made made with boiled eggs tucked in the dough. But nowadays that’s not seen too often, because of well, sanitary reasons. I suppose if you wash the eggs really thoroughly it would be ok, but I still like this version better.
And… bonus track! I also made a filled wreath. It was for my boyfriend so I filled it with nutella :) The procedure is really easy, as you can see on the picture. Just roll out the dough and add the filling, then roll it and join the 2 ends together. There are also filled braided wreaths, but that’s another story.
Oh, and in case you still didn’t get the point of adding the pastry cream after baking. This wreath had a lot of pastry cream that I added on the raw, and it collapsed under all the weight. It turned out so ugly I didn’t even take a picture, sorry! But now you know I was speaking from experience :) The bright side is that it was still so good!
PS: the first wreath I made was ginormous so I halved the recipe here. I halved the pastry cream too, but you can double it if you want.
Recipe by IAG
Yield: 8 servings
For the sponge:
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup milk
65 g / 2.5 oz flour
6 g / 0.25 oz fresh yeast
For the dough:
50 g / 2 oz butter, softened
50 g / 2 oz sugar
2 tbsp milk
15 g / 0.5 oz fresh yeast
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
190 g / 7 oz flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg for brushing
For the topping:
simple syrup (heat 2 tbsp each of water and sugar in the microwave)
1. Mix all the ingredients for the sponge, cover and let rest for 2 hours.
2. Dissolve the yeast into the milk. Mix together the milk, sponge, and all the other ingredients except the butter, and knead into a dough. Add the butter and knead until very smooth.
3. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
4. Form the dough into a smooth ball, place it on a baking sheet, and let it rest, covered, for 30 more minutes.
5. Poke a hole into the dough to give it a wreath shape, trying to keep the width even. Cover and let rest until doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
7. Brush the wreath with an egg and bake it for 20 to 30 minutes.
8. Take the wreath out of the oven and brush it with syrup. Decorate with the pastry cream, sugar and cherries.
Pastry cream (for bread)
2/3 cup milk
100 g / 3.5 oz sugar
15 g / 0.5 oz cornstarch
15 g / 0.5 oz flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a small saucepan mix the cornstarch, flour, and half the sugar. Mix in the egg.
2. Boil the milk with the rest of the sugar, and pour it over the egg mixture.
3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 1 minute after boiling.
4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Fill a pastry bag and refrigerate until cool.
Blog-checking lines: The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world.