Braided True Lemon Easter Bread

Description

A traditional yeast bread that makes a fun and delicious Easter centerpiece. Serve warm or cold.

Ingredients

For the bread: 
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
6 packets of True Lemon dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 whole uncooked eggs, plain or dyed

For the frosting (optional):
6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 packet True Lemon
Sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating

Directions
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add remaining water and 1 cup flour. Mix in yeast until well blended and smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm place to rise, 1-2 hours. This mixture should double in size.
  3. In another medium bowl, cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light.
  4. Add True Lemon juice and salt, then add egg. Add raised yeast mixture and mix well until combined.
  5. With a wooden spoon, stir in about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead to form a soft non-sticky dough. Shape into a ball.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size again, about 2 hours.
  7. Punch down the dough with your fist. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long cylinder about 1 1/2 inches thick.
  8. Loosely twist two pieces of dough together to form a loose braid. Form the braid into a ring shape and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place uncooked eggs into spaces in braid. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise until doubled in a warm spot, about 40 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and towel.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven, and cool bread on a wire rack.
  11. Meanwhile, if frosting is desired as a topping, whisk together all of those ingredients until smooth. Drizzle on top and add colorful sprinkles!