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Easter bird made with yeast dough.
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Baked Easter Birds

Let's bake Easter birds from sweet yeast dough! They look amazing on the festive table and taste just as good.
Course Sweet Bread
Cuisine Czech
Keyword Czech Easter Pastry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rising time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6 birds
Calories 305kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 g) plus a small handful to flour the work surface
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • cup granulated sugar (70 g)
  • ½ stick unsalted butter (60 g)
  • ½ cup milk (120 ml) lukewarm
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest freshly grated (of about one small lemon)
  • 1 pinch salt

Misc.:

  • 1 egg white for egg brush
  • 12 small raisins for bird's eyes
  • 6 almonds for bird's beak

Instructions

  • Stir the active dry yeast and a teaspoon of granulated sugar into the lukewarm milk. Leave in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes until a bubbly foam appears on the surface of the milk.
  • Heat the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. It cannot be hot, just melted. Put the flour mixed with salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolk, the rest of the sugar, grated lemon zest, and melted butter. Pour in the milk mixture with activated yeast.
  • Make the dough: First, roughly mix all the ingredients in the bowl with a fork. Then dump the mixture onto a work surface, with a small handful of flour on the side. Process the dough with your hands and knead very thoroughly until smooth and elastic. It takes about five minutes; expect some physical labor! If the dough is too sticky, dip it a little in flour and work it in.
  • Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in a warm place to rise for about 1½ hours. The dough should nearly double in volume.
  • Knead the dough briefly with your hands and divide it into six equal parts. Roll each piece into a strand about one inch (2.5 cm) thick, about nine to ten inches (22-25 cm) long. 
  • Make a knot from the strand: Place one end of the strand over the center and create an opening. Push the same end through the hole so that a bit of the end sticks out. This end will form the tail of the bird. Turn the knot over; the other end will create the head of the bird.
  • Now we have a knot (the bird's body) laid head side up on the work surface. Use the tines of a fork to flatten the tail; at the same time, make decorative notches in the tail.
  • Carefully transfer the birds to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stick two small raisins to the sides of the head like the eyes. Press them firmly; the dough tends to push the raisins out as it rises. At the spot where the head touches the body, stick a small piece of almond deeply to form a beak.
  • Cover the birds with a clean tea towel and let them rise for a second time in the warmth for another hour. If the strands of dough have deformed while shaping the bird, these will form into a smoother shape after the second rise.
  • Preheat the oven to 338°F (170°C) and set it to upper and lower heat. Brush the bird thoroughly with the egg white leftover from making the dough. Bake the birds for 15 minutes.

Notes

  • Makes 6 Easter birds.
  • SERVING: Czechs bake the birds the day before Easter Monday, the most important day of the Czech Easter. Arrange the baked birds on a festive platter and place it on the Easter table.
  • STORAGE: Easter birds are beautifully soft and springy on the day of baking. They will keep for about five days at room temperature. Once cooled, place them in a plastic bag or airtight container. 
  • Sometimes, raisins fall out of the bird's head during baking. If this happens to you, at the end of baking, carefully brush the raisin holes with egg white (some leftover from the egg brush) and reinsert the raisins where they fell out. Place briefly in the oven; the egg white will glue the raisins to the dough.
  • Forming a knot requires a little practice. Try tying the strand of dough a few times until you get a result you're happy with. Even if the bird isn't the perfect shape after baking, it will always taste wonderful!

Nutrition

Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 28mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 312IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg