This year for Easter I decided to make Italian Easter Bread, a traditional recipe that Jason’s Grandma Rose used to make each year. I honestly had never heard of this Italian delicacy before, but I was curious!
After some researching and talking with Jason’s parents for a background info, I came across The Italian Dish blog that had a beautiful recipe. The bread looked so delicious. I knew I had to try it out!
This Italian Easter bread recipe has a tender and slightly sweet dough with a hard-boiled egg in the center and colorful, festive sprinkles. The perfect recipe to help celebrate Easter this year!
I enjoy making bread at home, the smell of sweet fresh baked loaves always makes me so happy! This Italian Easter bread is a fun and festive recipe similar to a challah egg bread. You can work through each step, mixing, proofing, shaping and have time in between to decorate Easter eggs. A perfect recipe to make together with your family!
This recipe yields three large wreaths, or you can make six mini wreaths with the dough. A simple egg wash is brushed on each wreath just before baking to achieve the perfect golden brown color and shine on the Italian Easter bread.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget the sprinkles! The sprinkles not only make the it look beautiful, but it also adds just a touch of extra sweetness to each bite.
It’s been decades since I dyed Easter eggs! To save you some extra time, you can use raw painted eggs to place in the center of each bread wreath. I used a super affordable 24 Karat Easter Egg Coloring Kit, only $2 at Albertsons, score!
This kit was awesome because they give you everything you need to paint eggs with a beautiful shimmering coat of color. Since I was using multicolored sprinkles, I decided to go with blue easter eggs for this Italian Easter bread recipe.
I recommend allowing the eggs to come to room temperature, wiping off any condensation before painting. When the dough proofs for the first time, this is an excellent opportunity to paint the eggs, so it has plenty of time to dry.
You want to give the eggs, at least, an hour to dry. Otherwise, the dye will bleed into the bread when baking. The raw eggs will be medium-hard once baked. Make sure to remove the egg if you plan on saving the bread to be eaten the next day (food safety first!).
After my first attempt at my husband’s childhood favorite holiday recipe, I couldn’t wait to have him taste test the Italian Easter bread. We couldn’t resist eating it when just warm out of the oven. We each ate half of a loaf!
Needless to say, Jason has requested that I make this every year for Easter. This will be a new tradition for our family. I can’t wait to teach Baby Gavin how to make this recipe someday!
TIP #1 – The Italian Easter Bread is made from a yeast raised dough, the yeast acting as the leavening agent. I used Fleischmann’s active dry yeast, which is best used added directly to the dry ingredients. Yeast are living organisms, so just like us, they need food to grow. During fermentation, the yeast eats the sugars in the dough, and the result (by product) is the creation of alcohol and carbon dioxide. The alcohol evaporates during baking and the carbon dioxide assists in leavening giving you beautiful, tender and airy bread.
TIP #2 – The absolute most important step in making yeast raised dough is not to kill the yeast. It is one of the first steps in the process and the most integral. Yeast die at temperatures above 138°F! In this recipe, I indicate to combine warm milk at 120-130°F with sugar, yeast, eggs, and flour. After the dough is mixed and allowed to “proof” or rise it is covered and ferments in a warm place. The yeast in the dough is working hard to make your bread elevate and expand, creating lots of flavor along the way in the delicious Italian Easter bread.
- 1-1/4 cup milk
- ⅓ cup of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) rapid rise instant yeast
- ⅛ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed for dusting and kneading
- Vegetable cooking spray or vegetable oil (for greasing proofing bowl)
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- 3 dyed Easter eggs (they do not need to be boiled, they will cook as the bread bakes)
- Colored sprinkles
- In a small saucepan, add the milk and butter to the pan. Heat the milk to 120 to 130°F, stirring the milk until the butter melts. Do not allow the milk to go above 130°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, salt and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk together. Add the warmed milk and butter mixture. Add 2 cups of the flour to the mixing bowl. Attach a dough hook to the mixer and combine until smooth on medium speed, for about 2 minutes. Scrape side of the bowl with a spatula as needed to incorporate the flour.
- Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the mixing bowl, kneading the dough on medium-low speed, scraping the sides as needed. Knead on medium-high speed until the dough is stiff and no longer sticky, about 12 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board, and knead for about 3-4 minutes, adding a little more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Shape dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl (vegetable cooking spray or oil). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise for an hour in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
- Punch the dough down, and then divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch rope, about 14 inches long. Taking 2 pieces, twist the pieces to create a braid shape, pinching the ends together and loop into a circle.
- Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined baking sheet (2 per sheet), spacing the braided dough, so that has enough room to rise. Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour, until it doubles in size.
- Brush each braided bread with the beaten egg wash. Top with sprinkles as desired. Gently place one dyed Easter egg in the center of each braided bread ring.
- Bake the bread at 350°F until golden brown, approximately 18-20 minutes. Quickly transfer the baked bread to a cooling rack. Enjoy!