Easter egg loaf

Break bread this Easter with those you love the most by making a simple flavoured plait decorated with hand dyed eggs – so pretty and so much fun to prepare this is certain to become a new Easter tradition.


You will need: For the bread 500g strong white bread flour 50g golden caster sugar 2 ½ tsp dried fast action yeast 1 tsp sea salt 200ml milk 2 x star anise Zest of 1 orange 60g salted butter, softened 2 organic eggs, large   For the coloured eggs To dye your own eggs, dilute gel paste food colouring in water. Place the eggs in a bowl and pour over the coloured water. Wrap the eggs with elastic bands if you wish to leave undied stripes. Allow to soak for 24 hours before draining.   For the Glaze 2 tbps icing sugar 1 tbsp hot water   To make the dough: In a pan place the milk and star anise. Heat gently until nearly boiling then remove from the heat and leave to cool and the star anise to infuse. Once cool, strain the milk and set to one side. In a large mixing bowl place the strong white flour, golden caster sugar, yeast, sea salt and orange zest and mix lightly to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, eggs and milk. Work the mixture into a dough. Knead, by hand for at least 10 minutes until the dough is even in texture. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in a draught free spot to rise for 60 minutes or until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, tip onto work surface and knead lightly to knock it back. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each out into a very long sausage. Pinch together the three lengths at one end, tucking under for a neat edge then plait together and tuck the other end under. Place onto a well greased or lined baking tray. Gently ease apart the dough in equally spaced positions and insert a coloured egg between the plaited sections. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 minutes or until doubled in size Preheat oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas mark 6. Bake in the preheated oven at  for 25 minutes or until well risen, golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Prepare the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar and water to make a very thin consistency.  As soon as the bread comes out of the oven brush over the glaze and add sprinkles if you desire.

For full Easter fragrance I also like to infuse the milk with 2 cloves, 1/2 grated nutmeg, pinch saffron strands, 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Heaven scent!