Dying the Easter Eggs
I got a little spoiled having not worked full-time for over a year. Going to school and working at places like Sur La Table and Crema Cafe certainly took enough hours, but it didn't feel so much like work, and I felt like I had a little more time for myself. Now I am committed to 40 hours a week at Whole Foods, and while my job is fun and coworkers are great...it still feels like work. It probably has a lot to do with the getting up at 5am each morning and that I'm not exactly practicing my art in the way I want just yet. But I am being patient and happy to be employed by a great company.
The one of the biggest problems with not having time is, my blog gets neglected. I have plenty of wonderful desserts and stories to share with you, but keep finding other things to do then post them. While I was in Paris I ate a lot of great food and even made a few things as well. As promised here is the post on the "famed" Easter Bread.
The Famed Easter BreadThe Easter Bread Traditions started in my family over 40 years ago. My mother found a recipe in a Good Housekeeping magazine in 1963 for an "Easter Egg Twist". She clipped it out, but didn't actually make the recipe till the following year. It must have been so good, that she continued to make it every year right before Easter, with only a few exceptions. (I was born on Good Friday, so my oldest sister baked the bread that year.) The usual routine went like this: we would start making the bread on Thursday or Friday before Easter. The small kids would help with coloring the eggs. There were rules, we could dye the eggs any way we wanted, but only "normal" colored eggs (ie red, blue, green, ect) were allowed into the bread. Normally my mother encouraged creativity, but not when it came to her Easter Bread. If you were capable, you got to help with the mixing of the dough, kneading and rolling it out. My mom made a lot of bread, but Easter bread was unique because it was lightly sweet and had lemon zest in it. To this day, the fresh smell of lemon zest reminds me of Easter Bread.
Making Easter Bread was an all day affair. We made enough to cover several baking sheets, and the house always smelled heavenly after. Then the torturous waiting began. Once it was baked and cooled, it was wrapped in tin foil and we were not allowed to eat it till after the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night or Easter morning. It was almost worse then waiting for Christmas gifts. Easter morning would come and no one stayed in bed late. If you got up early enough, you could have a few slices before leaving for church. Once we returned home, it was a free for all. Then the next few days we'd nibble on the remaining bits as breakfast, lunch or just a snack.
I was in college when I made Easter Bread by myself for the first time. I talked it up to my roommates, telling them the history of the delicious bread. I didn't need to say much, the smell coming from the oven was enough to convince them this bread was special. Once it was done baking, I did something completely scandalous, my roommates and I tore into the bread as it was still warm from the oven. Easter Bread that you have waited to eat for several days is very delicious. Easter Bread fresh from the oven is out of this WORLD! Soft, sweet and just enough lemon to give it a bright flavor; I was ruined. This year I was a little more disciplined. I did not eat Easter Bread till the day after I made it, though it took all my reserve to not eat it straight from the oven again as the aroma filled the apartment.
I almost feared my made-in-Paris Easter Bread was going to have to be "sans oeufs". The first grocery store I went to did not have food coloring. I visited 2 more stores before I found them just as I was about to give up. I also could not find colored sugar for sprinkling on top, but that wasn't such a big problem: I made my own. Later in the week I did find colored sugars at the Gallery Lafayette's Epicerie. (Note to self for future adventures in Paris.) They could have also been found at Mora, but I didn't make it there during this trip. I found myself sounding just like my mother when it came to dying the eggs because someone wanted to make crazy colored eggs. I said, that is fine, but only the normal colored ones go into the bread.....
Ready for the Oven!
If you'd like the recipe....well you'll have to ask my Mom, she guards it closely, it is a family tradition after all.