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 treat before, but I was definitely curious! After some researching and talking with Jason’s parents for a description, I came across The Italian Dish blog which 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 festive colorful sprinkles. The perfect recipe to help celebrate Easter this year!
I really enjoy making breads at home, the smell of sweet fresh baked bread always makes me so happy! This Italian Easter bread is a fun and festive recipe smilar 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 3 large wreaths, or you can make 6 mini wreaths with the dough. To acheive the perfect golden brown color and shine on the Italian easter bread a simple egg wash is brushed on each wreath just before baking. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the sprinkles! The sprinkles not only make the bread look wonderful, it 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 gave you everything you needed 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 the 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 a great 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 husbands childhood recipe, I couldn’t wait to have him taste test the Italian Easter bread. We couldn’t resist to eat the bread when it was still 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 definitely 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 eat the sugars in the dough and the end 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 to not 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 rise, creating lots of flavor along the way in the delicous Italian Easter bread.
- 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) rapid rise instant yeast
- 1-1/4 cup milk
- ⅛ teaspoon of salt
- ⅓ cup of unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 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, eggs and sugar. 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. Scrap 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 until smooth 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 kneaded 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, 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!