I have been asked by numerous people to post this Italian Easter bread recipe. I’m excited to do so! Easter is a celebration of “rebirth” in the religious context as well as in nature.
Springtime celebrations have always included things that were colorful, such as flowers, and colorfully dyed eggs, colorful clothes, etc.
This is another way to symbolize and celebrate the vast array of colors that spring brings with it each and every year. Also, it’s a fantastic time for farmers. They are about to begin their life’s work not that Mother Nature has woken up the Earth.
Celebratory Easter Breads
In the case of this celebratory Easter breads, it is the same colorful springtime celebration. Italian and Greek versions are the most well-known and are always decorated with vibrantly dyed eggs. The Italian style uses many different colors, while the Greeks tend to stick to their traditional red-dyed eggs weaved into their Easter bread.
Whatever style you prefer the Easter bread is a very traditional way to celebrate the change of seasons and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is extremely fun to make with children. It’s safe and if you wish as you pass down this traditional holiday recipe the kids can also be told about the religious symbols behind the making of this festive bread. and religious story. Children get a kick out of the whole bread-making process and you can rest assured that they will gobble up the end result, it is just that delicious!
Italian Easter Bread: Preheat oven to 350° F, 200° C
- 3 cups, all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup, granulated sugar
- 1 package, active dry yeast (rapid rise)
- 1 teaspoon, salt
- 2/3 cup, whole milk (120-130°F) lukewarm
- 1/4 cup, unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 eggs, plus 4-6 more for decorations
- 1/2 cup, candied fruit, finely chopped & soaked in brandy (this is optional depending on your taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon, anise seed or extract (The seeds are more authentic. You can substitute almond extract, as well.)
- 2 tablespoon, unsalted butter (melted), or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (try using the olive oil, once again it’s more authentic. Use a high-quality EVO; it makes a big difference.)
- Combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and butter. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.
- Add in 2 eggs and another 1/2 cup of flour. Beat 2 minutes on high-speed. Stir in fruit, nuts, and anise seed; mix well.
- Add in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (you will not need to use it all if you have good quality flour).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 7-11 minutes. (You could also use the dough hook on your mixer for 5 minutes, then knead by hand for 1-2 minutes)
- Place in a warm bowl, greased with olive oil. Turn the dough once so that it is lightly coated in oil.
- Cover the bowl with a dampened cloth and let rise for 75 minutes in a draft-free, warm place until doubled in size.
- The remaining eggs (uncooked and kept in their shell) should be dyed in pastel colors, then dried and lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it down, and then divide in half; roll each section into a 24-inch rope. Loosely twist the 2 ropes together. With a knife trim each end of the braid, then line the two ends up together in a wreath shape.
- Pinch the ends together carefully to alleviate any noticeable seam. Next, take a small knife and make slits on top of the ropes and tuck uncooked (dyed) eggs into the openings. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, another 30 minutes.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Slide from pan onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the top of the bread with melted butter straight from the oven.
- Let cool and serve.