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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vegan, Gluten-Free Osterkranz (German Easter Bread) & Natural, Homemade Egg Dyes

Free of gluten, nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, corn

Phew! I figured out how to do this just in time for Easter, and it only took two tries!  Osterkranz is a traditional German bread made for Easter. It literally means Easter wreath and, as you can see, the bread is braided and shaped into a wreath.

With some fiddling after checking out several different glutinous Osterkranz recipes I think I can confidently say that this is a pretty good gluten free substitute. And it's actually really easy to make, and the vegan version (this one, and my 2nd try) isn't really any different than the normal one with eggs and butter (my first version).

So here it is, my easy, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, most other allergies-free German Easter bread! The only time consuming part of it is waiting for it to rise :)

Now although I've said this version is vegan (and it is), Osterkranz is usually decorated with hard-boiled, coloured Easter eggs. These are usually pressed into the dough before baking. I didn't do bake them this way because I wanted to show you a vegan bread version. But if you decide to go that route, you can always dye some eggs and press them in before baking, or rest them on top of the bread afterwards, like so.

I tried dying some eggs using natural egg dyes. They turned out just ok. I hard boiled three eggs, then soaked them overnight in the fridge of varying tinctures of water and vinegar mixed with: turmeric (for the yellow, which turned out the best); beet slices (for the spotty pink one); blueberries (for a blue-ish egg).

I think the trick is to not dilute with so much water. It would probably have been better if my dyes were more concentrated, say beet juice as opposed to beet mixed in water.

But for a vegan version you can skip the eggs and go straight to the recipe after these pics! The photos below show the dough after rising, being sliced into three, then rolled into three equal lengths for braiding.

Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the braid being formed, but I think you'll get the idea.

Ingredients for Gluten Free Osterkranz (makes 1 wreath)

1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 c organic brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c warm milk of choice (rice, coconut, etc)

3/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c white rice flour + extra for dusting
3/4 c tapioca starch
1.5 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground flax meal

1/4 c olive or coconut oil (or softened vegan butter) + a few drops to grease a bowl
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Optional additions: 1 Tbsp poppyseeds, 1/4 c dried fruit like raisins or apricots, sliced almonds for topping


Grease a large bowl with a few drops of oil.

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix yeast, sugar, and salt together. Pour warm milk over the mix, stir, and let proof for 7 minutes, until yeast is bubbling.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil, apple cider vinegar and yeast mixture. Add any optional ingredients now, unless using for garnish. Beat until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

3. Scrap mix into the greased bowl and shape into a ball. Dough will be pretty sticky. Don't worry, bear with me and don't add flour. Using your hand, roll the ball of dough around the rim of the bowl to coat with oil (this will also help to shape the dough ball). Cover with a clean dish towel and set in a warm place to rise until almost double 45min - 1 hr.

I do this by heating my oven on warm while I make the dough, then turning it off and placing the bowl into the oven.

4. Remove dough from heat. Very lightly dust a flat surface with rice flour and drop the dough onto it. Knead a few times to smooth out the dough. Slice into three even chunks. (See above photo) Roll each slice into a long snake, about the length of a cookie sheet (see above photo).

5. To form the braid, dampen one end of each length with a drop of water, then press together. Gently braid the three pieces of dough until reaching the end, then pinch together.

To form the wreath, lightly brush a small amount of water over the outside edges of the braid with your fingers, then bring the two ends of the braid together to form a circle.

6. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise again in a warm place about 30 minutes. After rising, add any optional decorations, like sliced almonds or press in coloured eggs.

7. Heat oven to 350F and bake, uncovered, 15-17 minutes, until browned on the outside. Remove from heat and cool on a cooling rack.

Happy Easter everyone!  

If you're looking for more gluten free German Easter recipes, you might want to check out some of these old posts 

(I won't blame you if you laugh, some of the photos / posts are from waaay back when I first started blogging)

 GF Potato Dumplings & Gravy / Kartofelkloesse
GF Spaetzle
GF Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls /Holopchi

What are you eating this weekend?

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Waste not want not Wednesday, The Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Allergy Free Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Free From Favorites, Fight Back Friday, Gluten Free Fridays


  1. The bread looks delicious- just my sort of thing! Thanks for linking up :) #freefromfavourites

  2. Your Easter Bread looks so pretty and delicious! Hope you had a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday. Have a good week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen


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