Last week I went home to Portland for a few days, and while I was there my Mom gave me a stack of old recipes she had held onto for years and years. I went through the little hand-written notes and random clippings and came across a collage of Easter Bread recipes. I hadn’t made fresh bread in quite a long time, so I decided to try an old lattice bread recipe that sounded simple and healthy. It turned out really delicious, and had a strong taste of rye bread due to the caraway seeds. But what was the most striking was how beautiful is looked coming out of the oven, all inter-weaved and golden brown. If you’re going to a large Easter gathering and want to bring something impressive-looking, I’d highly recommend making this bread.
Lattice Fennel Bread
- 4 and 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 Packet Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1/3 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Butter
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 and 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 3 Tablespoons Flaxseed
- 2 Tablespoons Fennel Seeds or Caraway Seeds
- In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and 2 cups of the flour, set aside. In a medium-sized saucepan stir the milk, sugar, salt and butter over medium heat until butter has almost melted and the mixture is warm, but not hot.
- Add the eggs, the milk mixture and 1/4 cup of the olive oil to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for about 3 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the seeds and then stir in the remainder of the flour in 1/2 cup increments.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic in texture. Turn the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a small amount of olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm dry place to rise for one hour. If you don’t happen to have a “warm” place on hand, I always leave the bowl on top of a heating pad set at a high-heat setting for an hour, which seems to do the trick.
- Punch the dough down and divide it in half, then cover and leave it in the bowl for another 10 minutes. Grease a large baking sheet and set it aside. Roll out one of the halves into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 3 individual 12 x 2 inch strips and arrange the strips 1 inch apart on the greased baking sheet. Roll the second half on the dough into an 8 x 10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the rectangle into 5 individual 8 x 2 inch strips.
- Weave the 8 x 2 inch strips between the 12 x 2 inch strips, going over and under them in rotation. Once you have finished weaving, it should look like the photo above. Cover the baking pan with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and makes a slightly hollow sound when you tap on it. Brush the bread with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil during the last 5 minutes of baking. Cool the bread on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then serve.