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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 (108)

I see you use regular flour. What happens to the taste/texture if you use bread flour?

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

What memories! Nonna C used to make rabbits out of this dough for my mother and her siblings. The egg would form the tummy and she added raisins for eyes. Nonna V would make a few taralles with the dough. My mother used to make these with sprinkles but we stopped because they would melt into multi-colored slime on top of the bread when they defrosted. (We would freeze a few loaves to enjoy later.)

When the job of Easter bread making fell to me, I used to knead 10 pounds of this dough by hand. Ugh. Thank God for floor mixers! What used to take half an hour to knead by hand now takes only minutes on the floor mixer--and it can accommodate 20 pounds of dough at a time!

My newest challenge is using gluten-free flour this year. I've had some luck with Bob's Red Mill flour, but I am leery of doing all that work only to end up with a hockey puck. Any suggestions?

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

i would like to know if these easter breads could be shipped and if so how would i ship them. My brother in New Jersey would like me to make some for him, but i'm not heading his way for Easter.
Thank You

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercathy

From The Italian Dish:

Cathy: Yes, I have shipped these breads before. Put them in a plastic container and overnight them. I would not ship them ground. They are better when they are fresher.

March 10, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

My Italian Grandmother made this Easter Bread for all us when we were little. She added anise or lemon extract to it and it gave it such a good flavor. She made them into dolls and used raisins for the eyes, nose, and mouth and placed the colored egg in the stomach part of the doll. Very cute and all of us kids loved them and could not wait to get one for Easter. Thank you for this because I have seemed to have lost my recipe....

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

From The Italian Dish:
I used to make them in that shape when my kids were little! Only I put the egg where the face would be!

March 29, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Hi there,

My grandmother made this for me growing up, and I used your recipe a few years ago to make it for my nieces. They loved it. One problem I ran into was the color on the color sprinkles running on the egg wash. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent this from happening? I really like making the bread with the colored sprinkles and eggs, as that is the way I used to have it as a child.

Thanks,
Julie

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

My grandmother made the eater bread and it was a mix between biscuit dough and cookie dough...pupacalove......that was what we called it. Anyone ever hear of it or have the recipe. have a happy!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdiana

oops...Easter bread...tks

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdiana

I made 20 loaves this weekend for a bake sale and put the candy sprinkles on them. So pretty! Then I bagged them before they were completely cool and they all ran. (=^( I think the secret is to serve them the same day. Freezing them doesn't work either.

Buona Pascua, all!

(PS--They all sold anyway!)

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

I am so excited to make this Easter bread again, for the second year in a row. Last Easter my entire family loved this recipe and have already put in their requests for more this year. I'm also trying out the Torta di Pascua this year. I'm nervous but excited! Thanks!!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

Bellissimo pane di Pasqua!
Complimenti per il tuo blog, molto interessante.
Serena Pasqua anche a te!

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Thank you for a delicious recipe! This was my first time baking bread without a bread maker and it turned out fabulous. I substituted almond milk, as I did not have regular milk on hand, and while kneading, I used whole wheat flour. This recipe has inspired me to continue baking! Thank you!

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Pope

This question might be too late for this post, but my 98 year old Italian aunt was just telling me last night about the Easter bread her mother made that was similar to this idea, but savory, not sweet. Made with meats and cheeses, no sugar, in one large ring. She said she hasn't been able to find a recipe that captures the flavor. I've done a little searching, but most recipes seem to be made with candied fruits and sugar/honey. Are you familiar with the savory version of this bread? Thanks!

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliana

That sounds like what my Napolitan aunt called "Pizza Rustica." She only made it for Easter. It seemed like it was layered with half the meat in the deli!

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

Love Pizza Rustica, but that's more like a dense quiche. My aunt is looking for the bread wreath with the eggs, but savory with cheese, instead of sweet.

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliana

From The Italian Dish:

Juliana: Is this simiilar?

http://theitaliandishblog.com/imported-20090913150324/2010/3/29/for-easter-italian-easter-pie-torta-pasqualina.html

April 25, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

That does look good, Elaine, but it's an actual savory bread with meat and cheese incorporated in the dough, and then the raw eggs in the shell are placed on the dough wreath before cooking. I appreciate the help and suggestions!

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliana

I HAVE TRIED SO HARD TO FIND THE EASTER BREAD MY GRANNY USED TO MAKE JUST LIKE THIS ONLY HERS WAS A DRY CAKE LIKE TEXTURE ALMOST COOKIE FLAVORED.SO SO GOOD AND ALL I CAN FIND ARE THE BREAD TEXTURE ONES. SHE ALSO USED TO MAKE THEM THE SIZE OF YOUR PALM AND ALSO IN THE SHAPE OF POCKETBOOKS FOR THE GIRLS. PLEASE ANY OLD TIME ITALIAN RECIPE FOR THIS WOULD BE SO APPRECIATED.

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTONI

I'm getting ready to plan for Easter baking. My grandparents were from Sicily and we make a yeast bread without eggs in the dough, and flavored with anise seed. Some of the dough we form into various shapes, including baskets and birds, with hard boiled eggs, which my mother has always called "Pastudi". And some of the dough we form into cookies in the shape of an "S", although that work is so tedious that I usually end up making a large braided loaf when I tire of rolling the cookies.
We also make the same decorative shapes from a biscotti, aka cookie, dough, flavored with orange zest, brushed with powdered sugar frosting, and sprinkled with colored sprinkles.

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Denise, those cookies sound like "Knot" Cookies (so named bc we'd roll out a bit of dough and tie it in a knot before baking). Our family made those for Easter, Christmas, weddings, graduations, and any happy occasion. Did you flavor your icing with rum or orange juice?

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

Sister Juliana - we use orange peel, but rum sounds like it might be worth a try!

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

The orange peel went in the cookie. The rum(flavoring) went in the icing. Mmmmm....

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

Elaine,

I love this recipe. I can't wait to make it. The question I have is since it is a bread, do you use bread flour or regular all purpose flour.

You have a great blog. I really enjoy your recipes, stories and photos.

Buona Pasqua!

Caroline

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

From The Italian Dish:

Caroline: Don't use bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than regular AP flour and it will make a sturdier, crisper bread which is great when you want pizza or regular bread, but not for this sweet tender bread.

March 25, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I plan on making these this week but won't have time to bake them the same day as we eat them. If I make them on Sat. can I just refrigerate them and then bring them to room temperature for Easter Sunday? Will that affect the taste or texture of the bread?

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I love your blog! I am so happy to find this recipe! I tried it yesterday and mine came out a bit dry....I am not sure what I did wrong. I had to bake a bit longer than the recipe suggested. I also had to add flour when I started to braid them because the dough was very sticky. I used all the flour suggested in the mixing part but added quite a bit more during the braiding and shaping of the dough. I am fairly new to bread making....

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertiffany

My mom always told me to be aware of the weather when I was baking (Is it dry out? Raining?) and the size of the eggs (Are you using medium, large, extra large, or jumbo eggs?) This time I used a large floor-standing mixer to make 24 1# loaves. I live in desert, so I know the air was dry. I added an egg to my recipe and cut back on flour. The dough still "rode the hook" while kneading, so I added oil a little at a time until most of the dough was in the bowl. When I made smaller batches, I would oil my hands and the boards until my dough was elastic and not sticky. Otherwise I could not work with it.

Does this help?

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

Hi! There was a question from Vanessa way up at the beginning and I have the same question. Vanessa mentioned that her Aunty made these from biscuit dough. I think she means Biscuitti. That was how my grandmother made them. They were made from the biscuitti dough but not cut and put back into the oven the way you do with biscuitti but instead just braided and formed into a ring or "nest" for the egg, topped with an egg wash and the colored sprinkles and baked once. My grandmom was from Sicily. My mom had many recipes for biscuitti but I don't know which one was my grandmother's. Both of them have passed away. I do have a recipe similar to yours here but it is a light, airy, eggy, sweet bread. My grandmom's was dense and more like a soft cookie. She would cut it in a diagonal slice off of the circle, it looked like a biscutti when cut into pieces. She also used the same dough to make cookies that were shaped like the letter "S" or a letter "O" also topped with egg wash and sprinkles. They were so delicious! If you have a recipe like this could you please send it to me or post it. I would love to have these again and would love to share the lost recipe with my girls. Thank you so much.

March 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat Snyder

For those of you looking to add anise, my Nonna found a recipe in Panoram Italia for the exact same proportions with the addition of 1 tsp. anise extract.

I made this bread for Easter this year and the texture was amazing. Everyone loved how light and fluffy it came out, perfect with a cup of espresso.

April 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

So glad I found this recipe! My grandmother has gotten too elderly to bake anymore, and my mother just hasn't ever had the drive to take up the old-world Italian traditions. My grandmother was talking about how it has been years since she had this bread, so I decided what a great surprise this bread would be! It's a little late for Easter at this point, but who said that it HAS to be for Easter only? Trying my hand at it this weekend, very very excited! Thanks!

April 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeko

Make it for Sunday. Every Sunday is a little Easter. Mi Nonna was Born on a Sunday. That's why she was named Pasquetta!

April 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

I made this recipe last year and it was a hit with my traditional Italian family..tastes just like "nonna" used to make, This recipe is amazing and I have shared it with the entire family, Thank-you

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

When I was growing up my mother made this bread in one ring with the raw colored eggs nestled in the ring. This was the the old fashion Italian way. These look great as individual nests. Great idea.

March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSicilian in TX

Wonderful, found it just in time for Easter :) These will be perfect as gifts for the family! Thank you for sharing :)

April 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwhilehewasout

I cannot tell you how happy I was to see this recipe on your blog. I have been looking for it for years. My mom made these every Easter, and it is one of the few recipes that she didn't have in her files. I followed your instructions, and can't wait to bite into this tomorrow. I love all your recipes!

It seems that you made a lot of people happy with this recipe!

April 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSilvia Del Priore

Does anyone know the oven setting and time if baking this as one braided ring?
Thanks!

April 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTammy

Just made these for Easter Brunch using our fresh eggs. Simple and Easy. Gorgeous and Delicious. (1st rise can be done over night in refrigerator. )

April 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Denver

Just made these for Easter Brunch using our fresh brown eggs and bread flour. Simple and Easy. Gorgeous and Delicious. (1st rise can be done over night in refrigerator. Punch down, shape, rise, bake)

April 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Denver

Years ago I was traveling and visited Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy. Oh, loved it! Very beautiful and the people were so wonderful. I went to the most amazing bakery there. Pretty sure it is called Paneficio Marengo, but not positive. I had this dish for breakfast that I have tried to find some recipe for ever since. It was a savory type of bread/pastry dough and cooked inside were peeled, boiled eggs, vegetables (zucchini maybe and probably peppers and onions), cheese and herbs. I don't remember exactly what was in it, just that it was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten and, seemingly, perfectly prepared. Made such a nice presentation when sliced -- it was so colorful and appetizing and also a complete meal. Please, can someone help me to at least find out the name of this dish. I have been told that it is a regional specialty.

Thanks for any help you might be able to give.

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane Bedford

is this a sweet italian easter bread

March 4, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermary

Aloha Elaine,

I am a novice when making my own bread, but I have handmade this recipe for the past 3 years and it has made my family so happy, it is so delicious! Thank you so much, but I have a question and I hope hope hope you can answer it as soon as possible!

I usually make this the day of, but I will not be able to this year so I want to make the dough the day before. Will I need to knead it, allow to double in size, punch it down and then refrigerate or do I just do the initial kneading and refrigerate right after that? Could you kind of walk me through the process of the next day? Thank you so much!

April 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChelsey

From The Italian Dish:

Chelsey: Make the dough, allow it to rise and then just keep it covered with plastic wrap and stick it right in the fridge The next day, just take the dough out and allow it to come to room temp for about an hour. Then you can form your braids and go on from there! Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. You can e-mail me, too - just go to my "About" page for my email.

April 3, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I've been making this for the last two years, love it!! I work at a high school teaching the students how to bake, and this year we actually put it on our Easter sale menu. I was wondering if you had a way to not have the eggs run?? I also freeze them and the egg cracks, any thoughts about that?? I actually fill the dough with the filling that I put in my Kings Cake, also put vanilla dip on when cool and then add the colored non perils. Would love to know if you have a secret to keep the colors from running!!

March 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeneen

From The Italian Dish:

Deneen: I don't know how to keep the eggs from running, but I've often wondered if different kinds of dyes behave differently. I've only ever used the traditional egg dyes from the stores. Maybe you could try something different or natural, like dyes from foods. Don't know! Sorry!

March 10, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I just made a test batch of these and they were perfect! They look just like yours. My only modification was I added the zest of one orange and a splash of vanilla extract. They taste very similar and have a similar texture to hawaiian rolls. My family is going to love these, thank you so much for sharing!

March 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I dyed my eggs longer than usual and then washed them off very well and dried them and my coloring didn't run onto my bread.

March 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I had to stop using the candy sprinkles bc they would melt and run, which would make that beautiful bread look like it was covered in moldy slime!

I just finished 31 1# loaves for our bake sale on Sunday. Thank goodness for our standing mixer!

This week I want to try a test batch using Cup4Cup gluten free flour (which has been used successfully in handmade pasta, cookies, pie crusts, etc.) I'll post the results.

March 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

From The Italian Dish:

Julia: That sounds like a delicious addition! And thanks for the tip about the eggs.

March 21, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Question: would it be too hard to substitute active dry yeast for rapid rise, as I always keep a jar of active dry yeast in my fridge. Also, what would be the measurement, as I'm not sure how much a packet is, having never used the rapid rise yeast.

These look lovely!

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

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