This is an adaptation of Nana Crocetta's recipe. IMPORTANT: I cut the recipe in half to make one large braided wreath for our family of three. The full recipe makes four small breads (either ties or purses) plus one large wreath. If you choose to make the full recipe, make one half at a time.
NOTE: Mix the dough and shape your breads about 24 hours before you bake them.
10 cups flour
1 dozen eggs (for dough)
10 eggs for placement on breads
1/2 lb. margarine (I usually bake with butter, but Country Crock quarters give this recipe the best texture and moisture)
1 pkg. yeast (proof in 1/4 cup water with 1 tsp. sugar)
2-1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
Icing: milk mixed with confectioner's sugar (make thick)
round colored sprinkles (nonpareils)
- Proof yeast in warm (not hot) water with 1 tsp. sugar. Set aside.
- Boil the eggs that will be used on top of your breads for a couple minutes. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water.
- In a heavy-duty mixer (preferably using a dough hook)...cream margarine, add sugar slowly. Add eggs and vanilla. Add proofed yeast. Slowly mix in flour. The dough will be sticky.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until it holds together nicely. Divide the dough into four pieces if making ties and/or baskets. Divide the dough into three pieces if making a large braided wreath. Reserve some dough for small X-shaped pieces that hold the eggs in place on top of the breads.
- Place parchment paper on baking sheets. I use a large deep dish pizza pan for my braided wreath.
- Shape dough into ties, baskets or a braided wreath (work directly on parchment paper). To make the large braided bread, divide your dough into thirds and roll each portion into rope shapes long enough to make a complete circle. Begin braiding at the center point of each rope and join the ends when braid is completed.
- Remove the lightly boiled eggs from the iced water and position on your breads (see sketch). Anchor the eggs in place with dough ties.
- Cover the breads with wax paper or parchment. Next layer a light dish towel and loosely knit, light weight blanket or sweater on top. Place the bread in a warm place to rise overnight or for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 325°
Bake small breads for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Large braided wreaths take a little longer (25-30 minutes).
While bread is baking make icing. Let breads cool, ice and add colored sprinkles.