A traditional festive Italian Easter Bread recipe that’s easy to make! This holiday bread with egg in the middle can be fun to decorate with the family and makes a great gift for loved ones.
My husband Jason’s Italian grandmother made the most delicious Easter Bread every holiday. Jason has childhood memories of decorating eggs with Grandma and eating entire loaves of bread during his family visits to New York. As a treat to him, I made this Italian Easter bread recipe that has a tender and slightly sweet dough with an egg in the center and colorful sprinkles.
Before I met Jason, I honestly had never heard of this Italian delicacy before. I love the festive colors and the fact this bread can be laid out in a variety of designs. After talking with Jason’s parents for background info, I came across The Italian Dish blog for inspiration and the fired up the oven and gave it a shot!
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.
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 added pop of colors not only makes the finished product look beautiful, but it also adds just a touch of extra sweetness to each bite.
Time to channel your inner kid, or find a kid for the job. Let’s dye Easter eggs! I picked up an affordable 24 Karat Easter Egg Coloring Kit. This kit is great 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.
To save extra time in the preparation of this recipe, you can use raw painted eggs to place in the center of each bread wreath. No need to hard-boil, as the eggs will cook in the oven during the baking process.
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. This 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.
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.
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What you should know about yeast
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 airy bread. It’s important to note that yeast dies at temperatures above 138°F. In this recipe, 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.
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