This braided super-soft, fluffy and moist brioche crescent is a traditional Austrian pastry, typical for Easter. It’s about four times the size of a regular crescent and therefore a little (or huge) treasure.
This fluffy Easter crescent is a pastry with tradition: In some parts of Upper Austria, where I grew up, godparents would give this oversized brioche crescent to their godchildren on Easter Sunday.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people do remember this custom. Only a handful of bakeries are offering these kind of pastries in Austria around Easter time. It seems, that the large Easter crescent is vanishing bit by bit. Another vanishing yeast pastry is the ladder to heaven (recipe here). It’s usually made for All Saints’ Day on November 1st.
For years, every Easter Sunday, I had the pleasure to enjoy the large pastry that my godparents gave to me and my sisters. Each of us would get a huge, fluffy crescent. Therefore, we ate a lot of brioche for breakfast the days following Easter Sunday. By the way, when I say huge, I mean a crescent the size of a baking sheet, a crescent roughly 15 to 20 inch (40-50 cm) in diameter and as thick as an upper arm at its widest point. Isn’t that fun?
With the confirmation of the godchild, usually with 15 years, the godparents are released from their ‘duty’ of giving their godchild this giant brioche crescent as a present. I still miss those times. That’s why I got really motivated to make one myself and post the recipe here on the blog.
Also: Even though you can buy Easter pastries like this is some bakeries where I grew up, this year I’ll surprise my 2-year old niece (my goddaughter) with a homemade crescent. Update: She immediately took a bite the second I gave it to her :-)))
Easter brioche: The dough is soft and fluffy.
Easter crescents: braided, raisins, coarse sugar
Most Easter crescents contain raisins and are braided, either with three, four or six strands, and usually sprinkled with coarse sugar. However, you’ll also find unbraided plain ones and others sprinkled with almond slices instead of sugar. This depends largely on the bakery and region.
My first try: The crescents were too thick in the center due to making the strands for braiding too short. The second try went very well, see all other pics :-)
Easter brioche crescent: some notes on the recipe
Egg yolks: I had some leftover egg yolks sitting in the fridge to use up, so I used three egg yolks in the dough. I totally understand if you do not want to have any leftover egg whites so you can use one whole egg instead of three egg yolks. I did so to test the recipe and it worked fine.
Just a note: I think this is one of the reasons why this brioche braid is extra fluffy though. The next time I am making this recipe, I’ll definitely go for the egg-yolk version again. You can always keep leftover egg whites in the fridge for quite a while or even freeze them.
Sour cream: Usually, yeasted doughs like this do not contain sour cream. I added it to the dough of my ‘ladder to heaven‘ pastry as well as to the soft brioche braid and both pastries came out delicious. In my raisin braid recipe, I added some yogurt. Also delish! So I continue doing so here on Lil Vienna since the results are convincing every single time.
Egg yolks and sour cream make this brioche soft and moist. Oh, and don’t forget to add raisins for this reason.
Step-by-step recipe for braided brioche crescents
Easy brioche dough with raisins.
Mix all ingredients (find them below in the recipe box) and knead into a dough. You can make the recipe by hand or using a stand mixer with dough hook.
Let the dough proof until doubled in volume.
Put the dough in a clean, greased bowl and let it rise to double its volume at room temperature, about 1-1 ½ hours, or refrigerate overnight, for a long and cold rise.
Braid 4 strands of dough. Find the video tutuorial above.
Divide the dough into pieces, roll out strands, then braid them and bend them into a crescent shape (see video). Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Let the crescent proof for a second time until puffy, then brush with egg-wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Allow the crescents to rise at room temperature – about 1/2 – 3/4 hour until noticeable puffy. Brush the brioche with egg-wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake until golden. Enjoy!
Bake at 320 °F/160 ° C fan (alternatively: 350°F/175°C bottom/top heating element) until golden, about 15-20 minutes. y
This recipe makes either 2 large crescents (left, using 4 strands) or 4 medium-sized ones (right). For the smaller ones, I braided with 3 strands.
This recipe makes either 2 large crescents with 25cm/10-inch (left in the pic above) or 4 medium-sized ones measuring 18 cm/7-inch (right) – they are still pretty large.
Easter Crescent aka Giant Brioche Crescent
Yield: 2 large (25cm/10-inch) or 4 medium (18 cm/7-inch) crescents
This braided super-soft, fluffy and moist brioche crescent is a traditional Austrian pastry, typical for Easter. It’s about four-times the size of a regular crescent and kind of a lost treasure. Only a handful of bakeries in Austria are still making these large Easter crescents. You can make the recipe by hand or using a stand mixer with dough hook.
450 g (about 3.5 cups) of bread flour (all purpose flour works fine too)
1/2 cup (80 g) raisins (I like golden raisins best)
Optional, but recommended: 1 teaspoon brown rum, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 egg yolk + 1-2 teaspoons of milk for brushing
Making the dough:
In a large bowl (or in the bowl of the stand mixer), ssprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and set it aside for 3 minutes.
Add the sugar, vanilla, egg yolks (or the egg), sour cream, the warm (not hot) melted butter and the salt. If using, rum and lemon zest as well. Stir everything briefly - with a whisk or the dough hook.
Add about half of the flour and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, about one minute. The batter should resemble pancake batter.
Stir in the raisins until distributed.
Add the remaining flour and work it in with a wooden spoon (or dough hook). Once the flour is incorporated, knead for about 5 minutes. Tip: If I knead by hand, I do it directly in the bowl since the dough is pretty sticky. Please do not add any extra flour, otherwise the dough will not turn out so fluffy. If the dough is too sticky for kneading, set the bowl aside, covered, for 5-10 minutes. After the resting time, it is easier to work.
Put the dough in a clean, greased bowl and let it rise to double its volume at room temperature, about 1-1 ½ hours, or refrigerate overnight (see note below).
Divide the dough into several pieces. The number of pieces depends on whether you are making one large crescent or two medium ones, and also on how many strands you want to braid with.
Roll each of the dough pieces into a strand - this works best on a non-floured, smooth worktop. For a two large crescents, the strands should be around 25-inch (65 cm) long, for four medium crescents roll the dough to 20-inch (50 cm) strands. Slightly dust the finished strands with flour so they do not stick.
Pinch the ends of the strands together on one end, then braid them and bend them into a crescent shape. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Second rise and baking:
Allow the crescent(s) to rise at room temperature - about 1/2 - 3/4 hour until noticeable puffy (I did not cover the dough during this time).
Mix egg yolk and milk and brush the crescent with the egg-wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar (the sugar only sticks to moist/wet dough so don’t wait too long).
Bake the crescent at 320 °F/160 ° C convection setting (alternatively: 350°F/175°C bottom/top heating element) in a preheated oven until golden, about 15-20 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the brioche to cool on the sheet. Enjoy!
Long, cold rise: Instead of letting the dough rise at warm room temperature for about an hour, you can put it in the fridge overnight (tightly covered). Before you braid the dough, let it get back to room temperature (about 3/4 to 1 hour).