Last week I went home to Portland for a few days, and while I was there my Mom gave me a stack of old recipes she had held onto for years and years. I went through the little hand-written notes and random clippings and came across a collage of Easter Bread recipes. I hadn't made fresh bread in quite a long time, so I decided to try an old lattice bread recipe that sounded simple and healthy. It turned out really delicious, and had a strong taste of rye bread due to the caraway seeds. But what was the most striking was how beautiful is looked coming out of the oven, all inter-weaved and golden brown. If you're going to a large Easter gathering and want to bring something impressive-looking, I'd highly recommend making this bread.
4 and 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Packet Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 and 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons Flaxseed
2 Tablespoons Caraway Seeds or Fennel Seeds
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and 2 cups of the flour, set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan stir the milk, sugar, salt and butter over medium heat until butter has almost melted and the mixture is warm, but not hot.
Add the eggs, the milk mixture and 1/4 cup of the olive oil to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the seeds and then stir in the remainder of the flour in 1/2 cup increments.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic in texture. Turn the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a small amount of olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm dry place to rise for one hour. If you don't happen to have a "warm" place on hand, I always leave the bowl on top of a heating pad set at a high-heat setting for an hour, which seems to do the trick.
Punch the dough down and divide it in half, then cover and leave it in the bowl for another 10 minutes. Grease a large baking sheet and set it aside. Roll out one of the halves into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 3 individual 12 x 2 inch strips and arrange the strips 1 inch apart on the greased baking sheet. Roll the second half on the dough into an 8 x 10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 5 individual 8 x 2 inch strips.
Weave the 8 x 2 inch strips between the 12 x 2 inch strips, going over and under them in rotation. Once you have finished weaving, it should look like the photo above. Cover the baking pan with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and makes a slightly hollow sound when you tap on it. Brush the bread with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil during the last 5 minutes of baking. Cool the bread on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then serve.