Hop, Hop, Hoppin’ Along

I grew up Catholic. I think people have the need to confess that from time to time. Yes I grew up Catholic, but honestly I couldn’t tell you the last time I was in a church that wasn’t for a funeral, baptism or wedding. Even with my estrangement from my Catholic faith we still celebrate Easter as a family.

The traditions of this time of year are important to us. I think part of this is because we have suffered so many losses around this time of year. My Father, my Uncle Pat, my Grandfather (my Mom’s side) and my Grandmother (my Dad’s side) all passed away on or around Easter. Regardless of what was going on we found time each year to continue our traditions and enjoy them as a family. I’m not saying these traditions are anything extraordinarily different than many of Americans, but they are the traditions that keep us going through the years.

We color eggs. I don’t remember a year when we haven’t made a point to do this. Even when I moved out and went to college, I would come home and the night before Easter (Easter Eve?) my brother Kevin and I would do it. We had to, it wasn’t Easter if didn’t. Even this year as I color eggs with my own family, my Mother told me she would be coloring eggs with Stuart and Nonna. I believe Kevin and Brent are as well, and I assume Sean and Tiffany are in Fort Lauderdale.

Lex and Loki took egg coloring on with the same gusto they would if they were fighting a dragon and probably with the same amount of grace. We had nine cups of dye and though there were only 4 hands between the two them there seemed to be 8 times as many once the eggs came out. Mad Dog played Egg-Referee while I took pictures. Since he was the keeper of the eggs, he was allowed to get creative and made a few superhero eggs for himself. There was of course a casualty, as there are in many wars but this one went on to be the hero of Lex’s stomach. He ate the whole thing (yoke and all – which doesn’t usually happen). The kids picked their favorite colors and Lex was very disappointed that there wasn’t any black dye (ahh…my child). I explained that you don’t usually see many black Easter eggs, to which Mad Dog added that  was unless you were at Aunt Blue’s house. With egg coloring comes another traditions Easter Bread (Gurrugulo).

The Easter Bread is a Easter tradition throughout Europe. The Italian version of the bread is usually braided and contains hardboiled eggs. Made of a sweet dough and covered with candy (rainbow nonpareils) is a special treat we look for each and every year. As a kid I watched my Nana and Nonna make them in my Nana’s kitchen in Norwood. Each year there would be the same argument if  the eggs should be boiled ahead of time or should raw whole eggs be placed in the braids of the dough. Though I have since read that raw eggs can be used, I find it still easier to boil and color the eggs before making the bread. In past years when pressed for time I would buy the pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store and use that to make the braided breads, but this year Mad Dog made the sweet dough for me. He used a recipe from King Arthur Flour for Spring Sweet Bread (minus the dried fruit).

With the dough made and eggs dyed it was time for the kids to go to bed before they asked to help with the Easter Bread. Though I am really looking forward to the day when I can teach them this tradition, I am not ready to have their octopus tentacles in the way. With one true threat that I would call the Easter Bunny and cancel Easter the kids went to bed without issue. However that wasn’t before Lex informed me that the Easter Bunny didn’t have a phone and we put out water and carrots for Big E.B. The kids in bed meant that I could focus on the bread.

The dough was beautiful to work with. A general request of my family is that I make a large braided bread, but I enjoy the look of the smaller individual ones more. Because of this I made four smaller one-egg breads and one large one with four eggs. I broke pieces of dough off the dough ball Mad Dog had left to rise on the oven. The smell of this dough is unbelievable, the buttery scent just teases you. There is no hard fast rule about how to make them or the designs, though I believe a lot of them in the “olden days” are topped with a cross of dough to symbolize the cross Christ was crucified on. I generally just try to make them look pretty. I cut off three small strips of dough and worked them in to long ropes of dough for braiding. I started to make braids. I’ve mainly had short hair all my life and braiding doesn’t come naturally to me, so Mad Dog speaking to me several times while I worked made me mess up and I had to start over. I think of the ones I’ve done over the years these I took the most time with, making sure they the braids were tight and placed just so. I wet the dough with a little water to connect the braids to the base after placing the egg in the middle. I then created smaller braids and laid them across the top to hold the egg in place. Once the breads were completed I brushed them with a beaten egg wash and sprinkled nonpareils. They baked in the oven for 30 minutes. Mad Dog and I were able to taste the finished bread since there was some extra dough left over that I braided and made bread sticks from.

The breads are going to my Mother’s for everyone to share today. This has made for a very hard morning, since all of us (the kids included) have been eying them. Hopefully the candy the kids got will keep them away from the breads until we can get dressed to go.  That is if the kids don’t kill each other first.

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~ by Cute Fan Girl on April 24, 2011.

One Response to “Hop, Hop, Hoppin’ Along”

  1. […] Cute Fan Girl I’m sorry the remaining part of this post is repeat of this morning’s post Hop, Hop, Hoppin’ Along. Too much to do today for two […]

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