Makes 12 Easter Babies
These Easter Babies (Croatian Easter bread dolls a.k.a. primorski uskrsne bebe) are a new tradition in our family. The egg dying, dough mixing and braiding is so fun for children and grownups—it’s contagious. Traditionally, they are made with red-dyed eggs, but we use the colors we already have dyed. They make sweet gifts and they also look charming laying next to each Easter dinner plate. This lady uses naturally dyed eggs for her Easter babies.
If you're already making challa bread, use extra challa dough for these babies (simply make enough dough for 2 loaves, only bake one challa, and use the remaining dough for the Easter Babies).
2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 large beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups all-purpose flour
12 large hard-cooked colored eggs
- Scald milk in a small saucepan, remove from heat, and cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, combine eggs, sugar, butter and salt, mixing well. Add the milk/yeast mixture and only half the flour, and beat well. Gradually add the remaining flour while mixer is running, until a smooth, soft dough forms (you might need less or more flour—you be the judge).
- Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat both sides, and let rise, covered, until doubled. Punch down and turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes.
- Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Then, divide each of those pieces in two—one piece being slightly bigger than the other. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375ºF. Take the 2 pieces of dough (one smaller and one bigger), and roll the smaller piece until it is 12 inches long. Roll the bigger piece until it is 16 inches long.
- Now, make a capital T with the ropes of dough: lay the longer rope widthwise (like the top part of a capital T), and press the top of the shorter rope in the middle of the longer rope (coming down lengthwise to make the T shape).
- Put an egg near the top of the ropes, with the top of the egg just below the edge of the widthwise rope, and press the egg into the dough slightly. Taking the two pieces at the top, bring them down around the sides of the egg like a scarf and begin braiding the three strips.
- Place doll on parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with remainder of dough balls. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise slightly. Egg wash the dolls with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water. If you use challa bread dough, sprinkle the dolls liberally with sugar (the dough isn’t very sweet).
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Draw faces on the eggs with a permanent marker (Sharpie works well). By the way, you can still eat the hard-cooked eggs after they’re baked. The yolk might have a green sulfur ring around it but that’s okay.