German Easter Bread (Osterbrot)

Easter Bread - Osterbrot Glazed with Milk and Sprinkled with Sugar
Dr. Bernd Gross / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Ratings (6)
  • Total: 4 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 4 hrs
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Three rises total: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Yield: 12 pieces (12 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
184 Calories
10g Fat
17g Carbs
6g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

German Easter bread is usually a soft, white loaf made in a boule shape and scored with a cross. Filled with currants and almonds and scented with lemon peel, German Easter bread is not as heavy as a brioche; it is light like panettone bread from Italy, but not as tall since it is not baked in a form. Like panettone, it is made with low protein flour, not bread flour, which gives this Easter bread a more cake-like texture.

Most often, it is glazed with apricot jam straight from the oven and sprinkled with almond slivers but you can choose other methods of glazing, such as course sugar, milk or egg yolk.

Ingredients

  • Inclusions:
  • 1 cup/120 g. currants (Zante)
  • 1/4 cup/40 g. almonds (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Sponge:
  • 1 2/5 cup/170 g.  flour (low-protein*)
  • 1/4 tsp. yeast (instant*)
  • 2/3 cup/50 g. milk (cold)
  • Dough:
  • 1 2/5 cups/170 g. flour (low-protein*)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp./35 g. sugar
  • 1 small/33 g. egg
  • 1 tsp. yeast* (instant*)
  • 1/2 tsp./4 g. salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp./50 g. butter (sweet)
  • 1 tsp. zest (lemon or orange)
  • Garnish: your choice of milk, egg yolk, apricot jam or powdered sugar glaze, almond slivers or coarse sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Pick over the currants (small raisins) and let them soak in water.

  2. Soak the almonds in a little milk. Drain both well before using (see below).

  3. Mix the ingredients for the sponge together until it forms a ball. Knead for several minutes with a machine or by hand, being careful not to let the sponge temperature rise above about 72 F.

  4. Let the sponge work for 1 to 2 hours and room temperature.

  5. Place the sponge, flour, sugar, egg, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.

  6. Knead for several minutes. Add the butter and lemon zest and knead for several more minutes.

  7. Add the drained currants and almonds and knead them in. You may have to add a little more flour to make the dough less sticky. The amount depends on how wet and plump the raisins are. Turn the dough out onto a floured board to finish and knead until satiny and only slightly sticky.

  8. Form the dough into a loose mound and let rest on the table for 30 minutes.

  9. Turn oven on to 390 F with a baking stone, if you have one. If you do not have one, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  10. Form the dough into a boule (round loaf), pulling the surface down over the dough towards the bottom and pinching closed.

  11. Cover with loose plastic wrap and let the loaf rise 45 minutes at room temperature on a floured board or the parchment papered baking sheet.

  12. A few minutes before baking you can glaze and score your loaf. Brush milk or beaten egg yolk over the surface and sprinkle with sugar or almonds if you wish, then score a cross in the loaf with a razor blade.

  13. Bake with steam (instructions here) for 30 to 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 185 F. If the loaf is too dark on top, tent with foil for the last part and reduce the temperature to 350 F.

  14. If you have not used a glaze before baking, brush hot loaf with apricot jam and sprinkle with almond slivers (traditional) or allow to cool and glaze with a powdered sugar and milk mixture.

*Low-protein flour (about 9%) is like southern-style flour you use for biscuits. You may mix cake and all-purpose flour (1:1 ratio), use King Arthur Italian-style flour or just make the bread with all-purpose flour if you cannot find any other kind.

Instant yeast can be replaced with regular, dried bread yeast or fresh yeast (4 grams and 20 grams, respectively), but dissolve them in some of the liquid for best results. Instant yeast can be mixed into the dry ingredients.