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Sunday
Apr172011

Italian Easter Bread, Revisited

 

When I first posted the recipe for Italian Easter Bread three years ago, I couldn't believe the response. Every year as Easter approaches, I still get many e-mails about this recipe, so I thought I would make it again in a little different way and this also gives me the chance to update the recipe a little.

This bread is a sweet, delicious bread and so kids love it.  When I've made it for my kids I've usually topped it with colored sprinkles and eggs dyed different colors.  This year, I made golden eggs and topped the breads with Swedish Pearl Sugar from Lars, which doesn't melt when you bake the bread and looks pretty. 

 

 

Italian Easter Bread

 

for a printable recipe, click here

makes 6 breads

Ingredients: 

  • 1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast, about 2-1/4 teaspoons
  • 1.25 cups milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 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 or pearl sugar

 

 

Instructions:

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

In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just till butter melts.    In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs and sugar.  Add the warm (not hot - it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. 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 two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again.  Brush each  bread with beaten egg wash.  Put on the sprinkles or sugar.   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 minutes.  Cool on rack.

You can eat the eggs, but if you leave the bread sitting out for a few hours, don't eat them.  Common sense.

 

 . . . or you can use sprinkles and colored eggs:

Try another Italian Easter recipe, Easter Torta:

 

Buona Pasqua! 

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Reader Comments (89)

These look great! They always make me smile. Great childhood memories.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrom the Bookshelf

those are gorgeous!

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe urban baker

I am definitely going to give these a go.. I have been searching for a nice Italian Easter Bread recipe! I was speaking to my elderly Italian Aunty last week about the braided Easter bread that she and my father used to make (many, many years ago) and she told me it was actually biscuit dough. Have you ever heard of this, and if so I don't suppose you have a recipe?!

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

I am reminded that the Easter baking needs to begin. I love these bread nests - with the gaily decorated eggs. It just brings the spirit of rebirth to the table.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Your Easter bread is delicious! I am a chef and have owned my ristorante 31 years. I prepare my easter bread for my Saturday evening patrons with an enormous table laden with all my different breads. It is a tradition I began 31 years ago. Every year my patrons look forward to it!
This year I will add your breads to my table. In loving memory of your family and mine. Have a happy and blessed Easter!

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary

Your Easter bread is delicious! I am a chef and have owned my ristorante 31 years. I prepare my easter bread for my Saturday evening patrons with an enormous table laden with all my different breads. It is a tradition I began 31 years ago. Every year my patrons look forward to it!
This year I will add your breads to my table. In loving memory of your family and mine. Have a happy and blessed Easter!

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary

oh i love this recipe...mostly because it is the one that first introduced me to your wonderful blog 2 yrs ago!!
i was googling easter breads to try and replicate my dear grandmother's and i stumbled upon your adorable bread nests! this has become our new family tradition... thank you and have a blessed Easter!

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteramy

This is beautiful! I can't wait to try this recipe.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStrawberry CAKE

Can you prepare this just as well if you do not have a bread hook? I only have a portable hand mixer and my own hands!

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Had already planned to make these but am blown away by this new version, so will make these instead. Can you share how you made the beautiful golden eggs?

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAn Everyday Cook

Can you tell me if these breads can be baked, then frozen? I would like to do my bread baking in the next couple days, so I don't have so much to do closer to Easter. Thanks. The recipe looks delicious.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

From The Italian Dish:

Claudia: Yes, certainly you can prepare the bread if you don't have a mixer with a bread hook. I would just make it in a bowl, mixing it with a wooden spoon. When the dough gets stiff enough, just switch to your hands with the dough on the counter and continue until you get a nice soft dough that is not too sticky, but not overly dry.

An Everyday Cook: I dyed the eggs golden because I found a little Easter Egg dyeing kit in my grocery store that was for gold eggs. It was unusual, so I snapped it up!

Suzanne: I have never frozen this bread. Bread generally freezes very well and I assume this would, too. The only variable is the egg. Hard boiled eggs do not freeze well, but as long as you don't plan on eating the egg, I would go ahead and give it a try. I don't know what the dye will do when it's been frozen, but maybe it would be just fine. Let me know how it does if you end up trying to freeze these.

April 18, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Elaine, these breads are stunning! What a wonderful Easter treat. I've never heard of this bread before but I'd absolutely love to try it for the holiday. Happy (almost) Easter to you and your family! :)

These look great and fun - my first Easter as an Italian resident is coming up and I'd love to try out some traditional recipes. How do you dye the eggs? Do you put them raw in the oven together with the bread? Is this sweet bread also eaten with eggs and salami, or only the cheese bread? Your blog looks amazing - can't wait to explore it! Buona Pasqua!

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarine

Beautiful recipe! I want to make these for my family this year but I live in Denver. Any changes for high altitude?

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay

I don't have the pearl salt so assume either coarse kosher salt or Wilton white sugar crystals will be suitable substitutes.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAn Everyday Cook

Hi there! The butter you used - unsalted or salted? Also, milk...2%, whole, 1%?

I am going to attempt to prepare these for Easter this Sunday. My Grandma would be so impressed. I also do not have a mixer, and will be using my hands. I am very excited!!

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCortney

From The Italian Dish:

An Everyday Cook: No, no! It's not salt! It's sugar on top. It's called Pearl Sugar and it's big flakes that don't melt when you bake the bread. You can certainly use the Wilton Sugar Crystals.

Cortney: I just use regular salted butter. Sometimes I make these with whole milk (richer flavor) and sometimes if all I have is 1% milk (what I usually stock in my fridge) , that's what I use. Either way, it's okay.

April 18, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

From The Italian Dish:

Karine: In the recipe, is says that the eggs can be dyed raw. You don't need to hard boil them because they cook in the oven when the bread bakes. I dye them by just using the little Easter egg dyeing kits in the grocery store.

April 18, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

From The Italian Dish:

Jay: You know, I've never had to bake at high altitude. I'm sure there is a compensation for that - just google it and you will find lots about high altitude baking. Good luck!

April 18, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

HI, This may seem like a silly question, but when you say add the active dry yeast, should I be making the yeast like it says on the package and then adding OR just add it dry and mix in with the rest of the flours, milk...???

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

One more question, could I make this dough the day before, make the braided nests and put them in the fridge over night and bake them in the morning??

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershelly

From The Italian Dish:

Shelly: No, I don't use active dry yeast, I use instant "Rapid Rise" yeast. You do not have to proof this yeast in liquid, so you can just add it to your ingredients. For more about using yeast, you may want to read my post: http://tinyurl.com/yb753n3

Also, you can make the dough the day before. If you make the braids up and put them in the fridge overnight, they might rise too much. I would take the dough out and make up the braids, let them rise at room temperature and then place the eggs on them and bake them.

April 19, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

My husband says he rembers these from his child hood. He said they would sit out on the table all day and would be ate for dinner. (egg and all ) and he has survived . I was just curious, how to make and store them for Sunday dinner, while worring about everything else.They seem time consuming to wait till the last minute to make.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertottallyblonde

From The Italian Dish:

Tottallyblonde: Well, that's one of the problems! There's a couple of things you can do.

1) You can make the dough and dye the eggs the day before and refrigerate them. On Easter Day just take the dough out and bring it to room temperature. Make up the braids and place the eggs, let the breads rise and then bake them.

2) Bake them up the day before, let them cool and store in an airtight container. Serve the next day - do not eat the eggs.

Hope this helps.

April 20, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This is a really great recipe and a nice way of making something different with eggs, though it has the same concept but thanks for sharing it!

http://lizardcookieshoe.blogspot.com/

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbetty

No wonder you get a lot of comments - it looks fabulous. Love those golden eggs.

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

I just saw your post on my friend Zoe's blog. What a beautiful website you have. I'll have to come back again and do some exploring around it... when it's not so late. Thanks so much for sharing your talents.

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBret Bannon

These are so pretty! My little nieces would love the version with the brightly colored eggs and sprinkles...

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

so gorgeous!! brings me right back to the time I spent easter in Puglia :)

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteph@ Lick My Spoon

I came across this while searching for hollow rolls I was served at a small pensione in Rome several years ago. However, this is quite lovely! I may try it for my Italian father-in-law this Easter while still searching for a recipe for the hollow rolls I fondly remember. Can't wait to check out some of your other recipes as well. Thank you!

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoEllen

Just made this and it is wonderful. Thank you for such great recipes. I also made 4 loaves of the Artisan Bread. My family and friends are really going to enjoy their Easter treat :).

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTina

Making today, just put in brades and waiting for second rise, first took few hours due to room temp
warmed my oven, turned it off and put dough in the warm oven with door open then it started to rise nicely.

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrobin

Came out wonderful, love the sweet taste kids loved too. Hoping having to store in fridge wont ruin taste or texture but dont want egg to go bad by sunday. Great recipe.

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrobin

Beautiful website. Thanks for the inspiration. Had been looking for an Easter braided bread recipe that my 8 year old daughter and I could make together today -- and share in a new tradition. We made wreaths and little nests filled with tiny eggs that we covered in pastel sprinkles. Delicious, easy and fun. Thanks!

April 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermargaret

Thank you just finish making the bread...brings back a lot of childhood memories ...I have my grandmothers recipe for Easter bread, but way back then then never put down any measurements...It was just some flour, eggs, yeast and so on..
So thank you again.

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

oh man my dough turned out so wet and sticky i hope it turns out!

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergabrielle

hi, can you make the bread with hard boiled eggs or does it have to be raw?

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterida

Thank you so much for this. I have fond memories of making it with my mom as a kid and I'm hoping to make it this year.

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

YUM! thanks for this amazing recipe!
check out my blog for how mine turned out!
http://jensam311.blogspot.com/2011/04/easter.html

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjen

Thanks for the great recipe! I've been looking for something fun and easy for breakfast Easter morning, and I made these the night before and they were great! My kids loved having sprinkles and a colored egg with the bread, I will be making them again next year!

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

omg Elaine! I made these for my clients this weekend and they (me too) were absolutely obsessed!! The kids dyed eggs so we used colored eggs and they were beautiful!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Very tasty and yummy, but my "braid" impression disappeared in the baking, the dough becoming smooth. Any ideas why?

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

From The Italian Dish:

Gaby: So glad you liked the breads! It's fun to get creative with them.

Claudia: Maybe you let them rise too long? That's all I can think of. I've never had them come out smooth.

April 25, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I did let them rise a long time, I didn't think they had risen enough. I also thought that you could never overdue the raising time. Now I know better. Thanks, Elaine. They were still beautiful, big and delicious!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

After searching for an Easter bread recipe that resembled the bread my Italian grandmother used to make, I was so glad I found your recipe! I made many loaves and everyone loved it! Thank you!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeth

Like many of the previous entries, I've been searching for a recipe for Easter Bread like my grandmother used to always make. Her recipe was never written down and we have been searching for a way to re-make the bread we always loved. I found your blog and tried the recipe this year and it was PERFECT! The bread came delicious and just like grandma used to make. Thank you SO much for your recipe and for this amazing blog! Can't wait to enjoy many more!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

made this egg bread came delicious, everyone loved it! yummy!!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Ho fatto questo pane per Pasqua e la mia famiglia e' piaciuto molto. Grazie e buona Pasquetta!

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMcKenzie

Your recipe looks great. We are going to try it. My grandmother years ago made it but shaped bread like a basket with braided handle and a pouch with a couple of eggs in it. Have you ever done it that way.

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjim

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