Braided Easter Bread
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 (25 ounce) package of active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
5 whole eggs (uncooked) and dyed if desired
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Pour 1 cup of the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt and yeast and stir well.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and butter. This should only take a minute or two as the butter should be softened but not melted.
Slowly add the warm milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add the remaining flour and the two non-colored eggs. Mix well until the dough has pulled together and away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth; about 7 minutes.
Lightly spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Give the dough a light spray to ensure all sides are coated. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. The dough should double in size.
Once the dough has properly risen, place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Roll each dough half into a log measuring roughly 1.5 inches thick by 3 feet long. With the two logs, form a loosely braided ring.
*Optional: Slide 5 colored eggs between the braids of dough.
Pinch the ends of the ring together
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or lightly coat with melted butter. Place the ring on the sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Set aside in a warm place and let it rise until doubled in size; about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush the ring with melted butter and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Do not worry; the colored eggs will cook as the bread does.