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Wednesday
Mar192008

Italian Easter Bread


Buona Pasqua!  I've made this Easter bread for years for my kids. It's a sweet bread, made with milk and sugar and has an Easter Egg in the middle! There's a lot of Italian recipes for Easter breads, some are savory and some are sweet. This one is fun.

Italian Easter Bread

for a printer friendly recipe, click here
makes 6 individual loaves
Ingredients:
  • 1 package Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs
  • sprinkles
 

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs right out of the fridge, without hardboiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don't crack!

Instructions:

In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.

Place on a greased baking sheet or line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.

 

** Note:  For an updated version of this bread, see my most recent Easter Bread post.  It's made with golden eggs and pearl sugar:


Another cute idea for Easter is making these Edible Egg Nests for your table:

 

 You might also like to try Italian Easter Torta (Torta Pasqualina): 


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Reader Comments (163)

These look so adorable. I started the dough earlier this morning and am waiting for the first rise as I type this. I ended up using almost 5 1/2 cups of flour , following the directions to keep adding flour until the dough is workable.. It is rising beautifully. Can't wait to finish them! Happy Easter!

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Thank you for posting this recipe.
I just found your blog and can not wait to find exciting things here.
My husband lived North of Naples for a year while he was in the Army and he loves Italian EVERYTHING.
Anyway - many blessings for a great Easter.
Marque' & Emily Davis

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

We always had a big breakfast with my Italian grandmother on Easter and she would serve this bread shaped in an easter basket with an egg in the middle ( she would get it at a bakery). I have looked everywhere for it...this is so close so I'm making it right now! I can't wait to try it and show my children...I love traditions like this! Thanks so much...LOVE your blog!

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I found this blog when I googled "easter bread". I am croatian and greek. We do a easter bread very similar to this but we add lemon zest and anise oil. I tried this recipe tonight and my family loves this version. Thank you!
~Mal

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMallory

These Easter breads brought me back to my childhood when we would go to Mike's Pastry in the North End with my parents. I made them several times, and they were superb. I must admit that I have changed the recipe a tad to make it my own, but I am so happy to have found your site and my cooking inspiration.

I made these for my my the bake sale at my son's school, as Easter gifts for everyone we know and for Easter today. I made them a little different each time. I made them the traditional way with the eggs in the middle. I made really tiny ones with jelly beans in the middle, and I made them with blue, green, pink and yellow dusting sugar on top.

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalia

I made this bread yesterday, and they came out delicious! And so cute. As good as I remember from my childhood. I will make this a tradition for me every year. Thanks for the recipe!

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Thank you for this recipe. I made it today to take to lunch with friends. Everyone loved the breads and I'll certainly be making them again. My only problem was that some of the egg colour transferred from the eggs to the bread in the baking. I used regular food colouring, which I suspect was the problem - next time I'll try proper egg dye. Love your website and look forward to trying other recipes.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

I'm making this next Easter.

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

I made these breads for Easter 2010...they were great and beautiful to look at! I added a bit of Fiori di Sicilia...which is a custom blend of lemon, vanilla and orange....I got it at the Kind Arthur Flour Company catalogue online. It made the bread taste like the Easter bread you buy at the Italian bakery!! Yummmmmy! Thanks for the recipe!

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I have been looking for a good Easter bread recipe for years. I grew up on this bread, but your recipe is much better than what I remember! Your recipe is the best! It was very easy to make, very delicious and came out looking beautiful! Your blog is my new "go to" spot for recipes! Thank you for all of your hard work! Connie

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

i gave my neighbor my mothers receipe for these wonderful Easter breads. She wasn't sure on some
of the ingredients so she found your blog. Your receipe is very similar to mom's so she tried it with
her bread machine. It came out perfect! I want to thank her and you for giving me a beautiful
Easter.

April 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpamn

This bread is wonderful! I add a cup of soaked raisins to the liquid prior to adding the flour. I then make 2 large braided loaves instead of the small, round ones omitting the coloured eggs. These are great for giving to my friends as nice gesture of our friendship!
Thanks for this blog - It's a keeper!

Hello!
I want to try baking them now that Eastern is comming, but I dont know what are "dyed Easter eggs". It seems that where I leave it does not exist, so could I use something instead of them?

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRocio

From The Italian Dish:

Ricio: You've never dyed Easter eggs? We have little egg dyeing kits everywhere here at Easter. It's a tradition. If egg coloring tablets are not available to you, this site may be of help. It's how to dye eggs naturally: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/EasterEggDye.htm

January 28, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made this yesterday with my 3 year. He had such a great time wrapping the dough around itself. The bread is so yummy and the eggs cooked well. We ate the bread with pulled pork and it was wonderful. Thank you for recipe. Everything I have tried from your site has turned at beautifully!

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

If I make these breads the day before Easter, will the egg still be able to be eaten if it is left out all night? Or, should I refrigerate the bread after it has been baked? I have never cooked a raw egg in the oven. How do you know it's cooked through and safe to eat? Or, is the egg just decoration? Thanks! It looks yummy and I am looking forward to trying it. Nicole

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

From The Italian Dish:

Nicole: If you make the bread the day before and refrigerate it after it's cooled, the egg will be fine to eat. The egg cooks thoroughly after being baked in the oven.

If you leave the bread out overnight (wrapped, of course) just tell everyone not to eat the eggs the next day. Actually, this is what my family does. Rarely do the eggs get eaten.

But they are pretty. :-)

April 6, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This bread dough is beautiful - 2 of my 3 sisters and I have made this recipe now and we have all loved the finished product. I took photos and am proud to say that my photos look almost identical to yours! Thank you for your step-by-step instructions. I might make this recipe after Easter and just braid the bread in a long loaf (no eggs) . . . I think it would make fabulous French toast!

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudi

Thank you for blogging about Italian Easter Bread! I have have grown up with this bread, although I have no idea to make it. I am now ready to attempt to make this same bread for my children. I have a challenge, my son is allergic to eggs. I am trying to find a recipe without eggs, or a any other options. Wish me luck.

Wonderful pictures as well. Great Job!
www.bellechosehome.com

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBelle Chose Home Blog

Should the egg be hard boiled or raw?

April 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarissa C

Marissa, The eggs can be raw, as they "cook" while the bread bakes! Just be careful not to crack the egg while dying it (I believe this same question was addressed in an earlier post).

April 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudi

I *just* pulled my batch out of the oven not even half an hour ago. I am so impressed!! My mother is very lactose intolerant and hasn't been able to enjoy Easter bread in ages. I modified your recipe to use her lactose free butter and milk, and it looks just like the breads they used to sell in the bakery.

I whipped up a powdered sugar glaze for a topping. I think that the bakery versions used anisette, but I'm not super crazy about that anyways.

April 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

This is the BEST Easter Bread EVER!!..... very easy to make, my home smell like heaven as they bake in the oven....I make them every Easter for my family and friends, and everybody ask for the recipe and I share with everybody..Thank You so much for sharing!!!

Buona Pasqua per Tutti....Bea

I love your website! Great recipe you have here :) A tradition in my family as well. have a Blessed and Happy Easter to you and yours.

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDana Salvo

Thanks so much for sharing! I made it today for easter... already ate a loaf! I can't wait to try your other recipes. Thanks again!

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

I was looking for a pistachio cake recipe when I stumbled upon your blog, but this bread looks fantastic and I think I'll substitute! Your photographs are wonderful and the recipes all look amazing! I took my first (and definitely not last) trip to Italy this past Christmas and fell in love! So excited to find your blog, thank you!!

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentervandera

Thank you for this recipe. I made it today and it brought back my childhood. I only wish my mom was here to see my accomplishment. She would've been proud. Your recipe is a keeper!

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Haven't tasted this yet, the bread is still in the oven, but it smells delicioso!!! And it was so fun to make-what a great Easter treat-I'm so grateful to have found this

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I tried this recipe and they turned out wonderful. Thanks for sharing the recipe and instructions.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMackado

I want to thank you for giving me a recipe I will now consider a tradition to bake every Easter! My mom and I had a great time baking this bread and your delicious Nutella bread. Family and friends enjoyed eating them!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Great recipe! I truly enjoyed making them and giving them to my nieces & nephews for Easter Dinner. I used them as place settings for them! Buona Pasqua!

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGenny Proto

For those that want to try adding anise flavoring be careful not to confuse the much stronger anise oil with anise extract. I have been making Easter bread for 25 years (my grandmother's recipe, of course) and always make one batch with anise. For this recipe I would suggest 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of anise oil or 1 to 2 teaspoons of anise flavoring. In some areas anise oil is only available at pharmacy counters. You may also find it at stores that sell candy making supplies. Buona Pasqua!

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLindaMaria

Can you make this without any fancy equipment ? I don't even know what a dough hook is. Can this be ,made by hand ?

March 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

From The Italian Dish:

TJ: Yes, it certainly can be made my hand. Sorry about that - the dough hook is what comes with a motorized mixer, like a KitchenAid. It just mimics what you can do by hand but does it for you. Just place the ingredients in a mixer bowl and instead of a dough hook, just use a sturdy wooden spoon and then when it becomes too difficult to do with the spoon, transfer it to the counter and finish kneading by hand. Hope this helps!

March 15, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Bellissima!

I made this (the 2008 verson) last Easter to give away to freinds and neighbors. This is the best Easter Bread recipe I have evern tried. My friend did not believe I made it; she insisted that it looked and tasted so good that it must be store bought. I wanted to make it again this year, but panicked when I couldn't find my downloaded copy. I am glad I found my way to your website again. Thanks for a great recipe.

March 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLM

Thank you... most comprehensive one that I have found for Easter Bread. My Grandparents on my fathers side were from south of Rome and mothers side from around Termo so our recipes are a little different. See them below. I haven't found any for Easter Cassata like my mother and aunts made, so I am enclosing that one also. Would like to have others shared to see differences.

Easter Bread and Easter Cassata (Abruzzese Style)

Easter Bread... Makes 4 or 5 - 2lb Bread Pan Loafs or braded
12 eggs - room temp
2 sticks of unsalted butter - melted
1- 2/3 cups of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon extract (or lemon oil)
1 tablespoon of Anis extract (or anis oil)
3 packages of Dry Active Yeast
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of warm water
5 lbs of Flour (10 to 12 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour
4 or 5 Bread Pans (spray inside of pan before placing dough on them)

Directions:
1. Boil (scold) the milk - set aside to cool (must be room temperature before using)
2. Melt Butter - set aside to cool (must be room temperature before using)
3. Mix warm tap water and 2 packets of yeast (make sure the water isn't too hot- 80 degrees) with a little bit of sugar and flour, about a tablespoon each - this proofs the yeast (bubbles) (Save one packet yeast to mix with first cup of flour you put into the wet mixture)
4. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar and salt thoroughly - then add Anis, lemon, butter and milk and mix, then add one cup of flour (mixed with saved packet of yeast) and mix well.
5. Add the proofed yeast with a wooden spoon, fold into mixture
6. Add one cup of flour at a time into the mixture and fold with the wooden spoon... after about 4 of 5 cups of flour you will have use your hands to mix the flour into the dough – after all flour is added, knead the dough on a flat surface for about 10 minutes - only use enough flour that the dough doesn't stick to your hands.
7. Roll it onto a ball, put it into a greased bowl, and spray lightly with some oil on top and cover with a towel. Allow it to rise for about 2 hours in a warn area. It should double in size before using.
8. Take and separate the dough into 4 or 5 separate but equal parts.
9. Roll each part into a ten inches long roll (depends on size of your pans), about two inches thick. Fold the rod in half and brad then together loosely.
10. Put each piece into your pans (should fill about half the depth and most of the length of the pan), spray tops and cover with towels for about 2 hours, it should double again in size again before baking.
BAKING:
1. Pre heat oven at 375 ... put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to give the bread some humidity while cooking.
2. Then lightly brush with egg wash mixture (1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of milk) just before baking.
3. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 (gives bread more lift), then turn pans.
4. Lower the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes... outside should be golden, inside should be moist... if outside is too dark, cut back on the amount of time for baking. If you over cook the bread it will be dry inside, if you under cook the bread it will be dense and gooey inside. You have to get to know your oven and the outside humidity.
5. After taking the bread out of the oven, brush lightly with melted butter. Remove from baking pan and cool on baking racks. (Once cool you can put icing on the bread... I prefer it without)

ENJOY!!!


Easter Cassata: Makes 4 bread loaf pans
3 dozen eggs - room temp
2 lb Ricotta cheese - drained well
1 lb of Basket Cheese (if you can't find basket cheese uses 2 more pounds of ricotta) - drain well
1 lb of Sugar
2 lbs of grated chocolate – use bar or block chocolate (don’t use chocolate chips, they don’t melt)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pie crust – enough to line 4 bread pans (you can buy pre-made pie crust, unless you are good at making flakey crust)

Directions:
1. Mix eggs, 1/2 of the sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl thoroughly
2. In another bowl, fold the cheeses, 1/2 sugar and chocolate together (don't over mix)
3. Combine both mixtures into one large bowl gently folding everything together (don't over mix)
4. Makes four bread pans - line with pie crust and pour ingredience into pans (about 2/3 of the way), let set for 10 minutes **
5. Pre heat oven at 225 degrees.
6. Bake slowly in 225 degree oven for 4 hours. When done test the middle with a tooth pick. After you take it out of the oven, let it rest for 2 hours before removing it from the pans.
7. Don’t cut the loaf until you have refrigerated them for a day.
8. It should have separated into layers if everything comes out correctly. Egg custard on the bottom and cheeses and chocolate towards the top.

** You can add candied fruit on the bottom... I like Maraschino Cherries

Ron Roefaro

March 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon Roefaro

I have posted this on my blog! Thanks for the great recipe!!

http://foodandphotography.blog.com/2012/03/30/easter-bread/

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

Looking forward to making this recipe this week We recently lost our nonna and although I made this with her every year she was the type of cook that always told you, you have to know the feel of the dough and always adding a pinch of this and a cup of that and made 10 -20 loafs in one sitting to pass out to our large extended family, She would add golden raisins to half her recipe. Do you have any suggestions for doing that or can you just add them?? Enjoy your blog its really sparked my love of cookin again! THANK YOU!

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Lisa,

Thanks for the comments about the Easter Bread. Have you tried the Cassata? It's GREAT!!!

About the raisins... I have tried to use them two ways...
1. Adding them into the batter. This gave me a problem in two areas: one it made my dough darker, and two, it affected how my dough raised... it slowed it down and sometimes didn't raise the second time.

2. Someone told me to try this trick. When the dough raises the first time and you punch it down to roll it into the shapes, put the raisens in at this time. Then let it raise the second time. It seemed to work better and didn't change the texture, taste, color or ability to raise of the dough.

Try it and see if it works for you. Happy Easter
Ron

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon Roefaro

Thanks so much for sharing this. This is my third year making them with my three daughters. It's a wonderful way to talk about my Grandmother and all the happy hours I spent in her kitchen. I know she would be so pleased to see her Great-Granddaughters cooking and hearing stories of her. They taste just like hers. Thanks again!

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOneMoreRusso

Made this last night wiith my 15 year old son... We had so much fun and the reward of eating the bread right out of the oven was so amazing!! Thanks for this recipe, we will use it again and again.... We've already started thinking of variations for other holidays!!

April 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimlyn Esser

My mother made very similar recipe, she was from Naples and my dad from Calabria so not sure which traditional bread recipe she used. However she made the twisted loaves only family size without egg, then made the little twisted dough by folding rope in half and put egg in middle and folded over and over till they looked like little baby dolls without arms. Used a fork to make toes on bottom of each wrapped legs. We all grew up wanting our baby dolls. I have been making for 20 years now since she's passed and will be baking tomorrow with my 30 year old granddaughter as they don't want the tradition to ever end.

Wanted to ask though if you ever heard of Fraze' (not sure how its spelled) Made a not so sweet dough then made doughnuts. Baked, then cut in half and put back in oven to toast. Had them all year with butter and Milk/coffee for breakfast where we dunked them. Would appreciate recipes if anyone has, never learned to make those and can't find her recipe.

April 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

In the oven now, and they look beautiful!!

I think this is almost the same recipe as the Mona de Pascua in the region of Catalunya (Spain), but theirs is made with olive oil..both are delicious!!! our family love these Easter breads and it's a great tradition. Thanks

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngeles

I am making these with my 2 year old daughter for the first time this year. Thank you for the recipe! My grandfather was Italian, and although there weren't many Italian traditions passed down, he always loved to remind us grandchildren that we were (1/4) Italian. So excited to begin our own traditions in my own growing little family!
Buona pasqua!
P.S. I braided my loaves....

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

This bread was EXCELLENT!!!! I made it this morning for our Easter breakfast and OH MY GOODNESS was it ever DELICIOUS! The best recipe, by far :) Worth making for sure, thanks so much!!!!!

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

Made these yesterday, Good Friday, sent one to work with hubby(sebastiano) he works nights. He shared them with a co-worker, the co-workder wanted to know what bakery he had bought it, because it was the best he's ever had!! Thank you!!! This was my first but not my final attempt at Easter Bread. I love your blog. I will probably work my way through all of your recipes. Yummmm.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaura

I made these for the first time today, we are going to have them tomorrow for easter breakfast. Yum!

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

this was by far, the best easter bread i have ever had..so simple to make, nice and sweet. made these last night and they worked perfectly!

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlori

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