Only a few hours until Easter Morning! I can’t wait, there’s so much that happens each Easter that it turns the holiday into something magical. Osterbrot definitely makes it into the classic Easter tradition area. That is true, at least, if you are German, enjoy German holiday traditions, or just love Osterbrot. Usually, I usually have an Italian Columba this time of year. But to spice up #MarchGermany even more, we have the Colomba’s close relative: Osterbrot.
Once this guy has cooled, I’ll have a slice with breakfast. From what my cousin tells me (she lived in Germany for quite some time), it is traditional to eat Osterbrot with breakfast. Which means, that if I can quickly whip up a Columba then my Easter breakfast tradition will span two countries and hashtags!!! (That’s Germany, Italy, #MarchGermany, and #ItalianApril if you missed it 🙂 ).
Now, as much fun as I have baking, cooking, and writing these posts I’m off to join my family for some traditional Easter activities. Like a lot of families, mine has an Easter egg hunt every, well, Easter. (That was a bit redundant. Not to mention repetitious 😉 , maybe I should have changed my words…) Every year, we add one rule to the egg hunt. You can’t start hunting for eggs until you find your Easter basket. When it’s rainy and the weather is unpleasant, we hunt inside. My basket is always placed in a bizarre location: wedged between the washer and dryer, on a bowl floating in a covered bucket of water, taped to the bottom of a table, etc. I love it. I have so much fun every year. Who knows who will hide my basket and where it’ll be tomorrow!
Osterbrot: German Easter Bread
Making Osterbrot (which literally translates to Easter Bread) is actually pretty easy – and fun.
Let’s begin by seeking out the following ingredients:
- 450 grams (3 ½ cups) of flour
- 90 grams (~½ cup) of poolish
- 2 grams (¾ teaspoon) of active dry yeast
- 170 milliliters (~⅔ cup) of whole milk
- 60 grams (4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) of softened butter
- 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of honey
- 1 large egg
- Zest of 1 lemon/orange peel
- 60 grams (½ cup) of currants
You might notice that I really like sourdough bread. I love the extra flavor it gives. I didn’t have time for to wait for the sourdough to rise, so I gave this one a small boost with a little extra active dry yeast. If you don’t have any poolish, follow this link and make some! It’s super simple and will completely transform your baking.
Let’s begin! First, we’re going to use the all-in-one technique that you see when making cakes. Well, almost the all-in-one. We’re going to mix everything but the currants. (That’s the flour, poolish, yeast, milk, butter, honey, egg, and the zest of a lemon/orange peel.) Once you have all of those ingredients mixed. Remove the dough from a bowl and knead until you have a nice smooth surface. If we added the currants at the beginning, then we could very easily smash them into pieces. By waiting, we make sure that they will keep their shape when we bake them.
So now, fold in the currants. You’re going to have to do a bit of kneading to evenly spread the currants throughout the Osterbrot, but it will be easy. Shape the dough into a ball, plop it on a silicon mat, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise until it doubles. It took my loaf about an hour and a half to double in size.
Once the dough has doubled, it’s important that we score the dough. Now, I’ve seen Osterbrot formed in two ways: balled (like I am doing here) and braided. If you braid it don’t score it. If you do ball it, score it in the shape of an X. Set the dough aside to rise some more. I gave it about 30 more minutes, but you could easily let it rise for an hour and be completely fine.
While the dough is rising, we need to heat the oven. So, turn on the oven to 200℃ (about 400℉). When you first turn on the oven, place a baking sheet full of water in the oven. I like to place a tray of water in the oven while it preheats because I don’t like spraying the water in. Oh, and I used to steam bread throughout the entire bake, but I just learned that you don’t want to do that. King Arthur Flour has a great post you should check out.
Just before I put the Osterbrot in the oven, I thought a wash would be nice. I debated between an egg wash and a milk wash and decided to combine them! I’ve never seen or heard of this done, but I quite like it. I mixed one egg yolk with a bit of milk and then coated the bread with the wash. I googled around and after a little googling I found an article that talked about different types of washes. It seems that I’m not as inventive as I thought 🙁 But hey, I LOVE the way it turned out!
Once you have the Easter bread coated, pop it in the oven and allow it to cook for 30 minutes. My bread browned nicely in that thirty minutes. When I took out the water tray at the 30-minute mark, I didn’t want the bread to brown anymore. So, I tried something I heard of this week (quite literally, I’ve never heard of this before). I covered the bread with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. It WORKED like a charm! Holy Smoke! I’m going to continue doing this in the future.
The only trouble I had with making Osterbrot was being able to tell when the bread is done. I tried knocking (and all the techniques but using a thermometer to tell the internal temperature of the loaf). In the end, it took about 30 minutes to cook in the dry oven. (That’s 1 hour of cooking overall). Once you have that nice hollow sound, remove your Easter bread from the oven and set it on a cooling rack. You want the bread stone cold before cutting into it.
And there you have it! A simple recipe for German Easter bread. Isn’t Osterbrot easy to make? I love this bread. Can’t wait to eat it in a few hours!!!
Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter!) Until next time my friends!