The lemon/zest can be substituted with 1 tsp vanilla. Besides Almonds, other possible add-ins are dried cranberries, raisins, and/or pistachio nuts. ———- See how to braid the Easter bread in the YouTube on your right. When making a true braided Easter bread or wreath, you would take several uncooked painted (food paint) eggs and lay them gently on top of the dough wreath towards the middle before baking. Brush some egg wash around the colored eggs, being careful not to touch them. The eggs will be done while baking.
In a small bowl, mix the warm milk with the sugar until dissolved.
Add the yeast and set the mix aside until it begins to foam slightly, about 5-10 min.
When the yeast starts bubbling, mix together flour and the salt in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, zest/juice of 1 lemon, the sour cream and almost melted, but cold butter. Set aside.
Add the yeast mixture in an indentation to the middle of the flour, stirring until moistened.
Add slowly the remaining ingredients (egg mixture) to the dough, a little at a time, mixing until the dough comes together.
Add 1/2 cup raisins or other add-ins, see description (optional)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until soft and smooth. If you have a Kitchen Aid, knead at least 5 minutes until dough removes itself from the blades.
Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and set in a warm (70-75 F), draft-free place and let rise for 1 hour.
Wait until had doubled in size, then turn it onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll them flat, then fold them together in three ropes.
Place the 3 ropes on the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cover the ropes with a damp towel and let rest for 5-10 minutes until the dough springs back.
Then try rolling them with your hands again into to 24″ long ropes.
Pinch one end of all three ropes together and braid loosely. (Watch the Youtube below)
Let rise for another 45 minutes.
If making a ring, let the rise until puffy and nearly doubled, 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Gently brush the ring with the beaten egg and water egg wash, and place the almond slivers on top
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes, until the Easter bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped gently.
Let the bread cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.