15 minutes & 2 hours proofing
When I was a child, my parents had a house in the South of Portugal. This meant that we spent long summers and many Easter holidays there, enjoying the sunshine, beach, culture and of course the food. One of the things that was always a part of Easter was the traditional Easter bread. It seemed so strange and fun that it contained whole eggs baked into it, but it also tasted slightly sweet and was something of a real treat. Now that I'm not in Portugal that often anymore, I tend to miss these little things, but of course baking is something I can do wherever I am! So, if you like the idea of serving something unusual on Easter morning, why not try this bread?
Put 1/4 of the warm milk into a small bowl, add 1 tbsp sugar and sprinkle in the yeast. Leave for about 10 minutes. Now put the flour, salt, lemon zest in a large bowl and mix together. Whisk 3 eggs together. Make mould in the middle of the flour and add the remaining milk, sugar, butter and whisked eggs. Combine all with a spatula or wooden spoon before starting to knead the dough. You will have to knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it's smooth. Now rub a little of the olive oil all over it, cover the bowl with cling film and leave for around 2 hours until it's risen to about double its size.
Preheat your oven to 190°C. Coat the inside of a round cake tin (about 20cm diameter) with a little olive oil. Take the dough and give it another short knead. Separate about 1/6 of the dough and put the larger part into the tin. Carefully press 3 whole eggs into the dough.
Now take the remaining dough, divide into 6 pieces and roll each one into strips of about 12cm. Slightly flatten those strips and lay over the eggs like a cross. Beat the remaining egg and paint the top of the bread with it. Put the tin in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes until golden.
Take out of the oven, leave to cool a little and serve with butter. Bon Appétit.