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How to Make Italian Easter Bread – Sweet, Light, and Fluffy
I’m excited to share one of my mom’s favorite holiday recipes for Italian Easter Bread. We looked forward to this delicious bread on our Easter dinner table every year.
You can also make this recipe as a braided bread any time of the year—just leave out the Easter eggs! Everyone will enjoy this light sweet bread.
*Affiliates note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. My content may contain affiliate links to products and services. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. It does not affect the price you pay.
What is Italian Easter Bread?
If you have never had an Italian Easter Bread, it is similar in taste and texture to a Panettone, another type of Italian sweet bread. Panettones with their candied fruits are often enjoyed during the Christmas holiday season. However, instead of citron, Italian Easter Bread includes colored Easter eggs.
You’ll find Italian Easter Bread’s light and fluffy texture so pleasing. Along with a hint of sweetness and the crunchy sprinkles, this holiday bread is one of my favorites!
Making Italian Easter Bread
If you have never made a savory or sweet bread before, don’t worry! I walk you through the entire process step-by-step in my recipe video.
If you are familiar with my other cooking videos, you know that I cater to the beginning cook or baker. I am so happy to help you learn these skills, so you can have them and go on to teach others, especially the budding young cooks in your family. Together, we will be able to preserve these wonderful home cooking skills for future generations!
How to Serve an Italian Easter Bread
You don’t have to save your Italian Easter Bread for dessert. Even though it leans on the sweeter side, you can enjoy this bread with your main Easter dinner meal. The whole eggs that are cooked in the bread are a treat for children or anyone young at heart who may be at your table.
Slice the bread in hearty wedges, similar to how you might slice a bunt cake. You can serve butter on the side, but besides being light and sweet, this bread is also rich in butter. Yum!
A Recipe for Good Friday
Before celebrating Easter and serving an Italian Easter Bread, try making and serving these delightful hot cross buns on Good Friday.
Hot Cross Buns are a wonderful treat with your Good Friday dinner after breaking your day-long fast. My mom served these buns with a good dose of sweet icing on top in the traditional design of a cross. And that’s how it got its name, Hot Cross Buns! 😊
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Italian Easter Bread
- 1 Large bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 Large spoon or Danish dough whisk
- 1 Electric stand mixer with whisk and dough hook optional
- 1/2 cup Water, warm 110°F
- 1 tbsp Sugar This is for the yeast.
- 2 1/4 tsp Active dry yeast Or one packet of active dry yeast.
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract Almond extract can be substituted.
- 3 large Eggs, raw
- 1 stick Butter, unsalted and softened to room temperature This is equal to a half cup of butter
- 1/2 cup Milk, preferably whole
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 4 1/2 – 5 cups Flour, preferably white whole wheat flour You can substitute all-purpose or bread flour.
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Olive oil
- 3 large Eggs, raw and colored These are for inserting into the braided bread as decorations before baking. The eggs will cook as the bread bakes.
- 1 large Egg This is an additional egg that will be for the "wash."
- 1 tbsp Water This is additional water for the "wash".
- 1 tbsp Rainbow nonpareils sprinkles
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar into the 1/2 cup of water and stir. Add the yeast, and stir. Set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture is frothy.
- In a large bowl, whisk the 3 raw eggs with 2/3 cup sugar until light and frothy. You can whisk by hand or use an electric mixer. This process takes approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add butter and vanilla to the bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed., You can whisk by hand or use an electric mixer. This process takes approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk, begin adding flour to the bowl, 1 cup at a time until the flour is completely incorporated with the wet mixture and dough begins to form. (If you are using a stand mixer, remove the whisk attachment and switch to the dough hook.)
- Continue adding one cup of flour at a time to the bowl until the dough easily pulls away from the sides and does not stick to your fingers when touched.
- Add salt and knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes by machine.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the bowl with a bit of olive oil.
- Return the dough to the greased bowl and turn the dough over a few times in the bowl until it is fully greased.
- Cover the bowl and place it in a warm place to allow the dough to rise for one hour or until it doubles in bulk.
- After one hour, punch down the dough and transfer it to a floured surface. Cut the dough into four even pieces.
- Roll out each piece into a 20" long strip.
- Braid two pieces together and set aside on a floured surface.
- Braid additional two pieces together and set aside on a floured surface.
- Cover both braids and allow them to rise for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, take each braid and join them together into a circle. Transfer the circled braid to a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. (See video.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Nestle the 3 colored raw eggs evenly spaced in the circled braid. (See video.)
- Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, coat the braid with the egg "wash." Do not coat the colored eggs with the wash, only the braid. Once the braid is coated, shake the sprinkles over the braid.
- Place the baking sheet with the circled braid on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the cooked circled braid from the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack.
- After cooling, serve and enjoy!
- Italian Easter Bread is best eaten the same day it is made. But if you decide to make it a day in advance, wrap it well and keep it at room temperature.
- If you have any leftovers, wrap well and refrigerate. The bread will stay fresh for 3-4 days. Before serving, uncover the bread and bring it up to room temperature. You can also freeze the bread for 2-3 months, if wrapped well. As with refrigerated bread, allow the frozen bread to come up to room temperature, uncovered, before serving.
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