April 11, 2009

Easter Egg Nests

Happy Easter!

Spring seems especially welcome this year. This morning we took the Bread Baker's Dob for a walk and saw a mother duck and about a dozen little ducklings swimming around through the reeds. They were new enough that they had gold spots on their backs and they swam pretty close to the mamma duck, especially when they saw us watching them.

Eggs have been a symbol for new life and for spring for a very long time. A book that a dear friend gave me for my birthday a few months ago had a recipe that is perfect for Easter and spring. Bread nests made of sweet dough hold colored eggs that cook while the dough bakes. Most of the work has been done tonight (Saturday), but they will be held in the fridge overnight and baked in the morning for our Easter breakfast, so this will actually be posted on Sunday.

The yeasted dough is called 'dolled up' because I took the basic sweet dough and added cardamom, nutmeg, and candied ginger for flavor, brown sugar instead of white, also for flavor, but then changed the 1/2 and 1/2 to nonfat evaporated milk and the egg to egg substitute to reduce the fat just a bit. The dough is really lovely and easy to handle. Even with all the additions, when baked it is a mildly spiced and barely sweet dough, so add jam at the table if you like.

The eggs came out of the oven soft boiled and you should remove the dyed egg from the nest within the first 10 minutes after you serve them because otherwise the shell tends to stick to the dough a bit.
Sweetie would have liked the egg better hard boiled, but MuniMan enjoyed them soft boiled. He said it reminded him of his childhood, in a good way.

Dolled Up Sweet Dough
A variation on Basic Sweet Dough in Breaking Bread with Father Dominic

3-4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter OR 1 package of RapidRise yeast mixed with ½ cup warm water
1 cup non fat evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon candied ginger, finely chopped
¼ cup egg substitute OR 1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla

Sift 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Set aside.

Placed evaporated milk, butter and brown sugar into a saucepan and heat until butter is nearly melted. Remove from heat. Add the finely chopped candied ginger and stir a few minutes to help mixture cool. Let cool to 110 degrees F.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture; beat well. Add egg and vanilla; stire until blended. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour, stir until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that is rather sticky.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 3 minutes or until dough is smooth and silky. (Add additional flour if needed while kneading, but only enough to keep it from sticking a lot.) Cover with a slightly damp towel and let rest 10 minutes.

Egg Nests

1 recipe Dolled Up Sweet Dough
8 eggs in the shell, uncooked, dyed or plain
1 egg, mixed with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
sesame seeds or coconut, or finely chopped nuts
Divide dough into 18 equal portions. Set two portions aside. Cover half of the portions with plastic wrap, but leave on the counter. You can unwrap them when you've made the first 4 nests.

Take a portion. Roll it into a rope about 12 inches long. Repeat with another portion. Twist the ropes together.

I find that if you start in the middle, twist one side to the end, then twist the other side to the end, it works very well.

Form the twisted rope into an oval and trim off any excess and make a continuous twist rope oval.

Take one of the two portions that were set aside and divide it into 4. Take one of those pieces and form an oval…you can add any dough you trimmed off, too. Place the oval on a Silpat mat, parchment lined baking sheet, or greased baking sheet. Place one of the eggs in the middle.

Put the rope oval in the palm of your hand, turn it over and lightly pat it with a wet hand.

Set the rope oval over the egg and let the wet dough seal with the flat oval already on the pan.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. You should finish with eight nests.

NOTE: I used uncooked eggs and dyed them in a water bath that had been made from about 6 drops food coloring, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, and boiling water. The eggs should be close to room temperature so they don’t get shocked and break when put in boiling water. The eggs dye very quickly and can be removed to a paper towel lined glass baking pan or pie pan to drain and dry. They are in the dye bath only about 5 – 10 seconds. I dyed them right before I rolled out the ropes and then refrigerated the pans of rolls overnight. They sat out for about 1/2 hour before I baked them.

If the house or kitchen were very warm, you could probably pre-heat the oven and bake them about 15 minutes after removing from the fridge.

Cover nests and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 30 – 45 minutes if baking right away, or until nearly doubled.
About 15 minutes before the end of rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the dough, but not the eggs, with egg wash; sprinkle dough with sesame seeds, coconut,

or finely chopped nuts. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool on racks about 5 minutes.

The eggs cook while the dough is baking. These nests look wonderful grouped together on a buffet .

They can also be served on individual plates.

Makes 8 egg nests.
These bread nests are an entry this week in Yeastspotting event usually at Susan's wonderful blog, Wild Yeast. For a yeast lover this even is a never ending inspiration and delight. This week it's being hosted by Zorra of 1x umruhren bitte blog instead, and you can find it here.


  1. What a cool idea! Thanks!

  2. What a wonderful Easter morning treat!

  3. I like the idea of the coconut "feathers". Nice twist on the traditional egg nests.

  4. Now this I must remember!! What a wonderful Easter breakfast AND done the day before but baked in the morning so they're fresh!! That's a winner.


Comments are welcome but will be looked at before being posted. Just click on COMMENTS