Easter is here! Now that Ben and I have our own family, we are excited to start our own holiday traditions. This bread made its mark with us this week, and I won’t be surprised if we continue making it every year for Easter now. When I first saw this, I was very intrigued by the egg in the center. Other Italian Easter breads make one large loaf, and spread the eggs around the outer edge. I love that this recipe yields six smaller loaves, with one egg in the middle of each. And, it cooks while in the oven! No need to hard-boil it first!
Not only did I have fun making and shaping the dough, it was a fun project for Judah and I to color the eggs together. This was his first time dying Easter eggs and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He took control right away, and hardly made a mess! (What a surprise!)
The bread bakes up insanely soft, and is on the sweeter side. It reminds me of the Hawaiian bread you can buy in the grocery stores. So, if you like that, you will LOVE this. Don’t you love how beautiful it is!? I’m thrilled to tell you that the method is super simple! You’ll be impressing your Easter guests with little laboring…trust me. 😉
Italian Easter Bread
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup butter , at room temperature
- 2 eggs , lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour
- egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water)
- 6 dyed , uncooked, Easter eggs (will cook in the oven)
Mix together the yeast, milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth, with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, continue to slowly add the rest of the flour just until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed so that it is tacky, not sticky. Alternatively, the dough can be kneaded on a floured work surface, by hand. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces (about 3.5 oz each). Roll each piece into a 14-inch rope.
Twist two ropes to form a "braid", then join the ends to loop into a circle while pinching the tips together. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough ropes. Cover with a clean towel and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 more hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the dough "nests" with the egg wash. Decorate with the sprinkles.
Place one egg in the center of each nest, pressing down lightly to secure. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Note: The eggs can be eaten by cracking and dipping the bread in them, however, I would recommend discarding them if not consumed within a few hours.
Source: Adapted from The Italian Dish