Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot cake – do you love it? I remember as a kid we would buy (never make) our carrot cake for my carrot-cake loving dad. I enjoyed piece after piece…picking out the raisins and nuts as I went along (you know…typical kid stuff). I’ve always associated a nice slice of carrot cake with springtime, though these muffins would be amazing any time of the year. Does your family like to have carrot cake in the spring?

Perfect as a muffin or decadent with a dollop of cream cheese icing

When I saw carrots on sale at my local Aldi for 25 cents a bag…I knew the stars had aligned and I would be perfecting some carrot cake muffins. You guys, these muffins are amazing! The carrots add a delicious moistness to the muffin and the way that they are baked…just perfection. These muffins are delicious plain but made even more decadent with a dollop of icing on top–the perfect carrot cake cupcake! This year especially, we won’t be celebrating Easter with extended family or friends and I know it would not be good for my “Covid15” waistline to have an entire carrot cake sitting around at Easter. These little carrot cake muffins solve that problem. I baked up a batch, iced six for my little family and threw the rest of the muffins in my freezer for future breakfasts or snacks.

Muffin with chilled batter on the left. Muffin straight from bowl to oven on the right.

One of the keys to these muffins is actually in the way that you bake them. I know you may be tempted to mix up the batter and bake it then and there but I beg you to wait. Throw it in the fridge. Let the batter chill for an hour. Go take a nap. Whatever you do…please chill the dough. It will give you those beautiful domed muffin tops that you think bakeries or box mixes are only capable of.

Pro tip: Fill your unused muffin tins with 1/2 cup water before baking to keep your tins from scorching and for an even bake.

The other key is the way that you bake them. Preheat that oven! I know that I am sometimes guilty of throwing things right into my oven to bake. Don’t do that with these muffins. Make sure your oven is preheated to 425 degrees. This high temperature will make the muffins rise quickly, which gives them that beautiful dome you are looking for. After six minutes, decrease the temperature to 350 degrees to continue baking until the inside of the muffin is baked through. Perfection! Another tip: I fill my unused muffin tins with about a half cup of water each so that the empty tins don’t scorch, and to help the muffins bake more easily.

If you thought you weren’t a carrot cake fan, you may change your mind after trying these moist, delicious muffins. They have the perfect blend of spices and a “not-so-cream-cheesey” cream cheese icing on top. If you are a cream cheese lover, you can increase the cream cheese in the icing. I’ve sometimes thought that cream cheese icing overpowered my carrot cake, so finding this perfect blend with a subtle hint of cream cheese really made my perfect piece of carrot cake. Add a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top and you have the perfect springtime dessert.

I wish I could share one of these muffins with my carrot-cake loving dad. He’s the reason I gave carrot cake a chance as a kid and will continue to make it with this recipe for years to come. I’m sure when this virus blows over these carrot cake muffins will be one of the recipes I make for him (with lots and lots of frosting on top).

Yield: about 15 muffins

Time: 15 minute mix, 1 hour chill, 16 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup oil
  • ⅓ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots (2-3 large carrots)
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Icing:

  • 8 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons milk or cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Grate the carrots using a box grater or a food processor. The smaller you can make the shreds, the better. I like to use my food processor to grate them and then process them a few times to make them even smaller. If you buy the pre-shredded carrots from the store, give them a little whirl in a food processor or blender first to cut them down even smaller. This helps my picky children to not care about the fact that there are vegetables in their muffins!
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract. Add the grated carrots and mix together.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Slowly incorporate the flour into the liquid mixture. Be careful not to over-mix.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for an hour (or even a couple of hours). This is an essential step to create the beautiful muffin-dome you are looking for.
  5. After an hour of your batter resting in the fridge, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with liners (about 15 liners) and spray the liners with a non-stick spray.
  6. Fill each muffin tin with the cold batter, keeping them fairly full. I use a ⅓ cup scoop and fill each cup with about ⅓ cup of batter. The muffin tins that are not being used, fill each well with  ½ cup of water to keep your tin from burning.
  7. Bake for 6 minutes at 425 degrees (make sure your oven is preheated before putting your muffins in). After six minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 10 minutes. Your muffins are ready when they’ve formed a beautiful domed top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. At this point you can eat them all as amazing muffins (not a bad choice) OR you can let them cool and top them with delicious icing to make the perfect carrot cake cupcake. You can’t go wrong with either option. 
  9. To make the icing: whip together the butter and cream cheese with a mixer. Add the powdered sugar and milk or cream a cup and Tablespoon at a time. Whip in the vanilla. This icing is not an overtly cream cheese flavor (due to personal preference). You can tell it’s there but it’s more a hint of cream cheese than an overpowering cream cheese. If you love the cream cheese flavor and want it flavored more prominently in your icing you can increase cream cheese to 6 Tablespoons and decrease the butter to 6 Tablespoons. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: I think these would taste great substituting the flour with half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour. You can also add in ½ cup chopped nuts and ½ cup raisins to the batter if you like.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Easter Series: Resurrection Rolls

I love Easter! You may have gathered that from the Easter series I’ve been sharing over the past six weeks. This year, especially, I feel drawn to the hope and renewal that the spirit of Easter brings. Maybe I’ve just been noticing more this year, but I’ve been blown away by the beautiful spring blossoms, daffodils, tulips and the beauty of life rising from the dark ground of winter. During this difficult time in our world right now, we are all in need of the hope of a bright spring coming after a long winter. 

Symbol of the empty tomb

These resurrection rolls celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are a wonderful (and tasty) way to share the story of the resurrection with your family. When Jesus died, his body was wrapped in linen cloth and anointed with sweet spices before having the tomb sealed shut. Three days later, the stone was rolled away and Jesus’s body was gone. He was resurrected and later appeared first to Mary Magdalene as the resurrected Christ. As we make these rolls in my family, we talk about the symbolism of these events. The dough represents the tomb. We take a marshmallow (representing the white linens and Jesus’s body) and roll the marshmallow in the sweet spices (cinnamon) and “oils” (melted butter). We then seal up the dough and allow it to rise for an hour or two, explaining that the actual wait was more like 3 days. After the rolls have risen and puffed up we bake them on Easter morning. During the baking process the marshmallow melts and forms a delicious sweetness to the inside of the roll and when you cut (or bite) open the roll, the marshmallow is gone (dissolved), just as Jesus’s body was risen on that first Easter morning.  

Ready to portion and fill the rolls

I love the symbolism of these rolls and I especially love the teaching that happens as we make these rolls on Easter. I first introduced these rolls when I was a relatively new mama. I had been searching online for “Christ-centered-Easter ideas” and these rolls were one of the few things I found that really spoke to me. Some people use a canned biscuit or canned sweet dough for their rolls and if you are in a time pinch, that is a great way to go. I always make my dough the night before Easter, stick it in the fridge and pull it out in the morning to fill and shape the rolls with my kids. 

I make the dough the night before, portion it out and do an assembly-line while re-telling the Easter story with my kids

I like to set up an assembly line with a small bowl of melted butter, a small bowl of cinnamon and the marshmallows and my kids now know the symbolism so well that they tell the story or we read from the Bible as we make them. 

I hope that however you choose to celebrate Easter this year that you will feel the hope, love and power of our Savior Jesus Christ. He has the power to take any of our weaknesses and make them strengths. He has the power to help us out of the dark winter and bring us into a beautiful spring. He has the power so that when we die, it’s not the end. “He is not here; for he is risen, as he said” Matthew 28:6

Yield: 12 rolls

Time: 30 minute preparation, 2-3 hours rise, 20-22 minute bake

Ingredients

Dough

  • ¾ cup buttermilk, warm
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ½ – 4 cups flour

Filling

  • 12 marshmallows
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon/1 Tablespoon sugar mixed together

Instructions:

  1. Warm the buttermilk (it should feel like warm baby bath water–not too hot). Add the buttermilk and melted butter to a stand mixer. While the mixer is running, add in the eggs, sugar, instant yeast, salt and one cup of the flour.
  2. Add in the rest of the flour a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft but not sticky. Knead for about 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. At this point you can refrigerate the dough overnight and use the next morning to shape the rolls. Alternatively you can cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once the dough has doubled in size, separate into 12 pieces. Using a rolling pin or your fingers, spread the dough out into a circle. 
  5. Dip a marshmallow into the butter and then into the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place the marshmallow in the center of the dough and roll up into a ball. Place the dough ball onto the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  6. Let the dough rise about 30-45 minutes in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls until lightly golden brown on top, about 20-22 minutes.
  7. Enjoy opening the rolls and finding the “empty” tomb on Easter morning. They are delicious warm or at room temperature. 

I hope you enjoy these rolls as much as our family does. I am looking forward to the simplicity of Easter this year, and while we will definitely be dying eggs and participating in a family-style Easter egg hunt, we will also be focusing on our Savior, Jesus Christ and his victory over death, because that means that we can have that victory too.

Thank you so much for following along with my Easter series this year! If you want to check out any of the other delicious Easter breads to make this weekend: Czech Mazanec, Ukrainian Easter Paska, Pane di Pasqua (Italian Easter bread), Hot Cross Buns, or Bunny Rolls. Whatever you choose to bake, I hope it’s delicious and brings many beautiful Easter memories.

Check out all the recipes from my Easter series linked above

Happy Easter!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.

Easter Series: Easter Bunny Rolls

One of my earliest baking memories is from back when I was in preschool. My family lived in Germany and I seem to remember taking a baking class for kids and their moms. I’m pretty sure I spent a lot of that class nibbling on the dough and rolling it out like play dough. We had fun shaping the dough into different animals, and the memory of this class sparked this idea for these baby bunny Easter rolls.  

My kids love to bake with me. We laugh, learn and have fun together mixing dough and trying new recipes. This particular recipe is one of their favorites. They loved being able to use the scissors (supervise the little ones!) and to create really cute little animals out of the bread dough.

These would make the perfect Easter morning breakfast roll, or they would be perfect for an Easter brunch or at the dinner table. Whenever you choose to make them, I guarantee they are delicious and so much fun to make. We chose to make the traditional bunnies, but the kids were having so much fun with the scissors that we decided to add in some hedgehogs too. I think they turned out just as cute as the bunnies, if not cuter! So bring your creativity and see what you can come up with!

Yield: 12-16 rolls

Time: 20 minutes mix/knead, 2-3 hours rise, 20 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup buttermilk, warm
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ½- 4 ½ cups flour
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Raisins or currants for eyes

Instructions:

  1. Warm the buttermilk (it should feel like warm baby bath water–not too hot). Add the buttermilk and melted butter to a stand mixer. While the mixer is running, add in the eggs, sugar, instant yeast, salt and one cup of the flour.
  2. Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft but not sticky. Knead for about 3-5 minutes. 
  3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once the dough has doubled in size, separate it into 12-16 pieces (depending on how big you want each roll to be). Roll each ball of dough into an oval shape and set on the baking sheet. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place again, about an hour.
  5. Before baking, take your scissors and cut ears into the front of the dough on the bunnies. If you want to make hedgehogs, cut with your scissors all over the top of the dough. Add raisins for the eyes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake about 20 minutes until rolls are golden on top but not overly brown. You may want to check on the rolls after about 10 minutes and cover them with tinfoil if the “ears” brown too quickly. 
  7. If any raisins fall off the bunnies, push them back into the warm roll. Let cool or eat warm!

Recipe Notes: You could also sub in your favorite bread roll recipe and try shaping the ears on them. The rolls in this recipe are truly scrumptious and worth the splurge on the buttermilk, in my opinion, though you could do this with any bread roll dough in a pinch.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Easter Series: Hot Cross Buns

“One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!” is the rhyme that was sung on Good Friday in England where these buns were sold, which are thought to date back to the 12th century. I remember singing this nursery rhyme as a child and having no idea what the rhyme was talking about. Now that I’ve made and enjoyed some delicious buns, I’ve enjoyed sharing them with family and friends. I love the symbolism behind these Easter buns and the flavor. 

For those unfamiliar with this delicious Easter bun, it is a yeasted sweet bun studded with currants and iced with a cross that is piped across the top. When I first made Hot Cross buns, I was hesitant about using currants in the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of raisins in baked goods and I was afraid it would “ruin” the bun. But I decided to stay true to the recipe and used currants which are much smaller than a raisin. They were absolutely delicious. If you are able to buy currants, definitely include them in this recipe. It has become my new go-to dried fruit to put in baked goods because of the smaller size and flavor. If you have never tried them before, pick up some currants from your local grocery store and give them a try. 

These buns make a wonderful Easter gift or are perfect to eat on Easter morning or anytime on Easter weekend. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. “Get them while they’re hot. Eat them by the ton. One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns!”

Yield: 12 buns

Time: 15 minute mix, 2 hours rise, 15 minute bake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup melted butter, cooled
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup currants (or raisins)
  • 1 egg for egg wash (optional)

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cream or milk (more or less for consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave. Stir the milk so the heat disperses. The milk should be warm to the touch (like baby’s bathwater). Add the milk to a stand mixer and add the yeast, cooled melted butter, egg, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  2. Begin adding flour a cup at a time until a dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. Continue adding flour little by little until the dough is just a tiny bit sticky. Add the currants and continue kneading (for a total of about 5 minutes).
  3. Oil a bowl and put the dough mixture into the oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once the dough has risen, turn out on your counter and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a bun shape and place on the baking sheet, four rows of three.
  5. Cover and let rise again in a warm place about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. If you are using an egg wash, mix a lightly beaten egg with a teaspoon of water. Lightly brush the egg wash over the rolls. This will give the buns a shiny appearance. 
  7. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes until rolls are baked through and golden on top.
  8. While the rolls are baking, mix together the icing and prepare a piping bag (or ziplock bag works well too). I like to put my bag into a cup with the edges of the bag hanging over the cup so it’s easier to scoop my icing into the bag. Scoop the icing into the corner of the bag and snip off a small corner of the bag where the icing is located.
  9. Once your rolls have baked, let them cool about 10 minutes before topping with the icing. Make a cross on the top of each bun. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.

Easter Series: Pane di Pasqua Italian Easter Bread

Decorating Easter eggs has always been a tradition for me at Easter time. I loved doing it as a kid, and I have helped my own kids decorate eggs every year since they were little. Even when we lived in Japan and couldn’t find our normal egg dye, we still dyed Easter eggs. This bread is the perfect accompaniment to a family egg dying party. Not only does it look delicious on an Easter brunch table, but it is so much fun to make with kids. 

Pane di Pasqua, or Italian Easter bread, is a braided ring of delicious challa-type bread with a raw, decorated egg placed in the middle that is then baked. As the bread bakes in the oven, it bakes the egg along with it and you end up with a delicious hard-boiled egg, and bread to eat for Easter breakfast (or any breakfast). 

When I showed this recipe to my kids this year, the excitement was palpable. They loved helping braid the bread, dye the eggs (just some food coloring, vinegar and water) and then top the bread with sprinkles. To say this is a hit with kids is an understatement! I hope that you will give it a try and enjoy this delicious recipe with your loved ones around Easter time.

Yield: 6 small braided breads

Time: 20 minutes mix, 3-4 hours rise, 40 minutes shape, 25 minutes bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½-¾  cup sugar (depending how sweet you want your bread)
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup flour (initially, more will be added later)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour
  • Flavorings (optional: orange zest, lemon zest, 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract)
  • Colorful Sprinkles
  • 1 egg for egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water)
    • 6 raw eggs for dying
    • Food coloring
    • White vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Place warm water, sugar and instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Using a paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, mix in 1 cup of flour and stir well. Add salt and stir again. Then add the vegetable oil and eggs. If you want to add more flavor to the bread, now is the time. Add in some orange zest, lemon zest, almond/vanilla extract or a similar flavoring of your choosing. Mix all of these ingredients together until fully incorporated.
  2. Using a mixer (or by hand), begin adding the 4-5 cups of flour. Switch your mixer to a dough hook as you add in the flour, or begin kneading the dough by hand. Continue incorporating flour until the dough loses its stickiness or is just slightly sticky. This kneading process can take up to 10 minutes.
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours (though this will vary depending on your kitchen temperature). 
  4. While the dough is rising is the perfect time to dye your Easter Eggs. Mix together 3 drops of food coloring with ½ a teaspoon of white vinegar and about ¾ cup of water (this can be adjusted depending on how vibrant you want the colors). Dip or soak six raw eggs in the colors and let dry.
  5. After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope-like strand, about 10-12 inches. 
  6. Pinch two strands together at the top and twist them around each other forming an easy twisted braid. Bring the end of the dough together with the top of the dough to form a braided circle and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. You will end up with six braided “nests” of dough.
  7. Place each Easter egg in the center of each nest of dough. 
  8.  Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and 1 tsp of water together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of each dough nest. Sprinkle some colorful sprinkles on top of the egg wash and cover with a kitchen towel.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and allow your dough to rise again, about 30-45 minutes.
  10. After the dough has risen and puffed up again, place your sheet pan in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. The egg will cook while in the oven along with the bread.
  11. Allow to cool a little before serving for Easter breakfast. Enjoy!

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.

Easter Series: Paska Ukrainian Easter Bread

When I was researching recipes to make for Easter, I stumbled on this Ukrainian Easter bread. We have wonderful friends from Ukraine who we love like family, so I really wanted to try making an Easter bread from their home country. Paska is a delicious sweet bread eaten on Easter. Ukraine adheres to the Orthodox calendar, which celebrates Easter a week after we celebrate in the United States. Paska is often brought to the church in the morning to be blessed by the priest, along with other foods during the Easter church service.

It is an enriched dough which is typical of Easter breads, many of which are consumed after a period of Lent where sweets and decadent foods are fasted from for a time. This Paska is a brioche-like dough studded with dried fruit and a delicious lemon icing on top. They are baked in special paper molds, but if you don’t have that you can use a tin from canned food (green bean tin, tomato tin, etc…). Paska can also be made in a larger mold, though you would have to adjust the baking time. And speaking of time, this recipe does take a LONG time. That is part of the fun of it, though. It has three “rise” periods and it takes so long because of all of the heavy ingredients in the dough (eggs, butter, sour cream). Despite the amount of time for rising, this is a VERY easy dough to make because I never had to knead it. I think it would be a perfect baking project to make with kids for that reason.

If you want to teach your kids a little about Easter in Ukraine and Russia, here are a few books that go along very well with this yummy recipe. Check them out from your library, watch them being read on YouTube or purchase them on Amazon. You can’t go wrong with Easter books that teach about a new culture.

Rechenka’s Eggs, Patricia Polacco
The Magic Babushka, Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Or a coloring book of Ukrainian Easter Eggs: Pysanky Coloring Book

Regardless of whether you read a book about Ukrainian Easter, this recipe is a fun one to make with kids. When I texted the photo of the finished Paska to my friend, she was delighted to say it looked similar to their Easter bread! I wish I could have shared one with her with a cup of the delicious orange infused tea she makes. Making this delicious Easter bread would have only been better if we could have shared it together. Hopefully soon!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Yield: 12 mini paska

Time: 15 minute mix, 6 hours rise, 30 minute bake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup currants, raisins or craisins
  • 12 mini panettone paper molds

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon cream

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together milk, eggs, yeast, sugar, melted butter (not hot!), salt, sour cream and vanilla. Add 2 cups of flour and whisk together. The batter will be thick but won’t form a dough yet. Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.
  2. Add 2-3 cups more of flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Stir in the currants, raisins or craisins (your choice). The dough will still feel a little sticky. This dough does not require kneading. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 2 more hours.
  3. Set up 12 panettone molds on a baking sheet. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and fill each mold. Try not to knead it or push it down too much. Let the dough rise another 2 hours until the molds are almost full.
  4. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and then remove the wrapper if desired.

To make the icing: whisk together 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and ½ Tablespoon cream. Add a little more cream if it’s too thick, or a little more powdered sugar if it’s too runny. Pour glaze over each Paska and top with sprinkles before the glaze sets.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! I will be posting a new Easter recipe every week leading up to Easter. You can see last week’s recipe here.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.

Easter Series: Mazanec Czech Easter Bread

Old Town Square with my siblings when we took an Easter trip back to Prague almost twenty years ago.

As a grade-school child I lived with my family in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. We typically had drizzly, cold winters – and as spring approached, we all anticipated the blossoms, markets and traditions that springtime ushered in. In Prague, Easter is celebrated with beautiful Easter markets that dot the main squares. Booths are filled with hand painted eggs, little trinkets for sale, blacksmiths working over hot fires and sweet treats to eat. I loved smelling the hot food, listening to horse drawn carriages and maneuvering through the old cobblestone streets.

One of the more interesting items for sale at the markets are the Easter “pomlazka.” This is a traditional, handmade, Easter whip made out of twigs with colorful ribbons attached to the end. Tradition has it that women should be spanked on Easter Monday (the day after Easter Sunday) in order to keep their beauty, health and fertility for the next year. Women would give men Easter eggs in return. While I’m not particularly a fan of being whipped, especially by my little brother who quite enjoyed this tradition, I did enjoy the bright colors and learning about the Czech culture.

Along with pomlazka and decorating traditional Easter eggs, many Czech families eat a sweet Easter bread called mazanec that you can buy at local stores or make at home yourself. Mazanec comes from the word “mazat” which means to anoint, and is often decorated with a cross in the middle made out of almonds. The tradition of mazanec dates back to the 15th century, when wealthier families would often bake a small loaf for each family member. A similar bread is also made at Christmas time, but it is braided as opposed to the circular loaf eaten at Easter.

Homemade mazanec displayed on traditional Czech blue onion porcelain

My take on mazanec varies a little from the traditional. Instead of soaking the raisins in rum, I left them plain and actually substituted currants, which are a little bit smaller than raisins, and which my family prefers to raisins. I also added some lemon zest for flavor which we all enjoyed. This would be a perfect recipe to make with your family for Easter time if you are looking for a slightly sweet but substantial bread. It would pair perfectly with some jam or butter. Vesele Velikonoce!

Yield: 1 loaf of bread

Time: 20 minutes preparation, 3-4 hours rising, 50 minutes baking

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 T instant yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3½-4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 cup raisins, currants, craisins or other dried fruit
  • 1 egg for egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water)
  • Slivered almonds or other nuts for decoration

Directions

Traditionally a cross was made out of the nuts before baking. This is optional. You can also decorate with slivered almonds.
  1. Heat the milk and cream together in a small bowl until warm (not hot) to the touch. If you use the microwave for this step, mix it before testing the temperature as it can heat unevenly.
  2. Add the yeast, sugar, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract together and stir to combine.
  3. In a mixer or other bowl, add the flour, salt, lemon zest and dried fruit. Slowly add in the liquid mixture and mix until a ball of dough begins to form. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes in a mixer, or about 10 minutes by hand. Add flour a little at a time until the dough clears the side of the bowl and isn’t overly sticky. However it should still be a little bit sticky. 
  4. Oil a bowl and put the kneaded dough in the bowl. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours until it has just about doubled in size (depending on the temperature of your kitchen this may take a little less or more time).
  5. Punch the dough down and knead it a few times. Shape it into a round loaf. Place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and 1 tsp of water together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the dough. Add slivered almonds (or any other nut you may like) in the shape of a cross, pressing lightly for the almonds to stick. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for another hour until puffed up again.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 50 minutes. Around the 20 minute mark, check your mazanec. If the top is browning too much, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil to stop the browning. 
  7. Allow it to cool before slicing. Enjoy with a smidge of butter, a drizzle of honey or a dab of jam on top. Yum!

Notes: Rising time with enriched dough (dough with eggs, milk, butter) will take longer than a “lean” dough. The temperature of your kitchen will play a big factor in the rise time. Anything you can do to help warm up the dough (though not too much!) will help.

Happy early Easter! I hope you enjoy this Easter series on breads from different countries and are inspired to try one (or a few) to create a new Easter tradition for your family.

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