Bread is a staple for a wide array of European and North American diets. Many breads are flavored and enriched with a variety of ingredients. Among these, eggs are a common ingredient, due to their composition and availability. The protein-rich whites act in breads as both a binder and a leavener, because of their ability to hold air. The fat-rich egg yolks add color, flavor and richness to breads.
Challah (pronounced “hallah”) is a traditional Jewish bread reserved for the Sabbath. It is rich with a light sweetness because there is a small amount of sugar or honey in the recipe. After making the dough, the baker divides the dough into thirds; these are rolled into long cylinders and then braided into a loaf. Challah can be baked in a pan or free-form, preferably in a stone oven. The baker brushes the top of the loaf with a beaten egg yolk, then places it into an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bakes it for 45 minutes to an hour.. The loaf should be a deep golden brown on the surface and soft and light on the inside.
Brioche is a French bread that has origins as far back as the Roman Empire. It is often reserved for holidays, but can be found paired with rich meats and foie gras, as well as used in desserts. The dough is made with a small amount of sugar as well as butter for even more richness. Brioche can be baked in a variety of containers. It can be in a pan, small cups to shape it or even free-form. After the dough is made, the baker sets the dough and then brushes it with a beaten egg yolk and sprinkles it with a little sugar. The baker places the bread in a oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 10 minutes, the baker lowers the temperature to 350 degrees and bakes the bread for another 20 to 30 minutes. The outside should be a deep golden color and the inside should be soft and lightly sweet.
Easter Egg Bread
Easter egg bread takes its religious origins from the Russian Orthodox Christian bread kulick. This bread is formed by making an enriched dough containing eggs, sugar, milk and butter. After the dough has been developed, the baker separates the dough into three pieces and rolls it into long cylinders; the cylinders are braided, and then soft boiled eggs without shells, often dyed, are placed between the braids. The baker brushes the loaf with melted butter and places it free-form into an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 to 55 minutes. The loaf should be deep golden in color and soft and rich in texture.
References and ResourcesCulinate.com: The Science of Baking-Kitchen Chemistry
Joy of Baking.com: Eggs
The Nibble.com: Bread
PBS.org: Historical Facts
La Gourmandise.net: A Little History
Food Timeline.org: Easter Foods: History & Symbolism
ResourcesJewish Recipes.org: Spice and Spirit Basic Challah
La Tartine Gourmande: Simplest Brioche-La Plus Simple des Brioches
CD Kitchen.com: Easter Egg Bread Recipe