Janet's Notebook
Saluting Spring With Festive Easter Bread Creations

Easter Bunny Bread

Spring sure has come quickly this year! And while there may still be a bit of a bite in the air, flowers sure aren't being held back; Delicate green shoots are popping up throughout our garden. As we shake off the last chill of winter, I take heart in these little harbingers of beauty, and I am inspired to create even more warmth here in the kitchen.

Combining the freshness of spring with the comfort we crave is an adorable recipe for Bunny Bread with Dip in the Tummy! Tailor-made for Easter, this must-try party starter comes direct from Kelly Williams of Forked River, NJ.

"What's cuter than bunny-shaped bread surrounded by fresh veggies and a dip-filled tummy?" smiles Kelly. "It takes the 'blahs' out of veggie trays, that's for sure! I can't count how many times I've made this adorable bread; for Easter dinners, parties, barbeques, luncheons, birthdays, Mother's Day, you name it, I've done it!"

The bread in the recipe is created with refrigerated dough, so the real art is in creating the veggie whimsy. Go ahead and get creative, but don't be deterred if your first attempt comes out looking less like a rabbit and more like a teddy bear. The Kitchen Crew and I went through several attempts - including one very realistic looking pig - before finding our inner bunny bread sculptors. It's not at all difficult, just be patient and give yourself a little extra time. (In case you're wondering, the bear and pig breads still tasted just as good!)

Breads are also a big part of the rich Italian Easter tradition. Joanne Belleza-Loughlin gave us one of our favorite go-to recipes for Italian Easter Bread, complete with inlaid Easter eggs!

"This is my mom's recipe," says Joanne who sings the praises of both her mom's cooking and that of their family friend who first shared the recipe. "[We] will definitely be making this for Easter this year!"

As beautiful as it is delicious, Joanne's bread is served as a golden braided loaf. Before baking she places several dyed eggs (raw ones!) into the dough. The result is simply stunning. The woven bread and colorful eggs are reminiscent of a real Easter basket... and unlike anything we'd ever served. Your guests are guaranteed to be impressed...and then ask for the recipe!

It'll be an heirloom recipe for Italian Anise Bread that's on Mary Silva's Easter table this year.

"The recipe is from my dear aunt who is 95 years old," explains Mary, a home cook from Chappaqua, NY. "She used to make about 40 loaves! Then every Easter morning she would personally deliver them to everyone in the family before church. This is great out of the oven or toasted with butter."

Rich and velvety like a true egg bread, Mary's recipe is laced with aromatic anise which exudes a sweet, licorice flavor. Many friends have told me that this recipe in particular brings back memories of their traditional Italian upbringing. For me, it's a wonderful tradition in the making!

"I loved it, my guests loved it, and you will just love how easy it is to make." That's how Cindy Graul describes her beautiful Raspberry Honey-Walnet Crescent Rolls. This wonderfully simple recipe is a favorite way to wake up. Paired with a cup of coffee, these sweet darlings make sure that your Easter morning is a cheerful one.

"These little tidbits are a delicious bite of sweet and savory," says Cindy. "The nuttiness combined with fruit and cream is sure to be a show-stopper when company comes over. A quick mix in 5 minutes and on the table in 20!"

Each golden crescent hides a creamy kiss of raspberry and honey-coated nuts. Sweet rolls truly can make a special morning even sweeter. I cannot wait to serve a platter of these rise-and-shine beauties at our Easter brunch.

Easter, like spring itself, isn't truly about food, no... but recipes like these do bring us together as families, and perpetuate priceless holiday traditions. They represent hope. Just like those plucky backyard flowers peeking their heads out of the frosty earth, each of these recipes offers us something beautiful to savor. Welcome, spring.

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Carol Junkins - Apr 1, 2013
I love that ~ and also want some ~ haha ~ would of loved to have made this too ~
Lorrie Kelley - Mar 30, 2013
This looks so cute!! And it sounds really good too :) I wish that I had seen this before today. I already have my whole dinner planned and all the ingredients bought. I will try this next year for sure.
Colleen Sowa - Mar 27, 2013
What a great article! Love the Easter ideas! Congratulations to all who were mentioned! xo
Sheila McCurry - Mar 26, 2013
I love it!!!! Too cute & very creative : ) "Healthy"