This Traditional Italian Easter Bread is a soft sweet brioche dough formed into wreaths or braided. Coloured eggs are baked into the bread and the bread is sprinkled with lots of nonpareils. Festive and bright for the Easter Holiday.
Another very popular yeast bread is a recipe called Casatiello Napoletano which is a savory stuffed bread.
I absolutely love Brioche Bread and of course this Sweet Soft Bread is a must in any Italian home on Easter.
I wanted to find a true Traditional Italian Recipe and I came upon this recipe Brioche di Pasqua from a fellow Food Blogger, Chiara from Chiarapassion.com.
How to make it
Tips on making the best Easter Bread
- This Italian Easter bread is a yeast bread which means you need time and patience. It’s not difficult just time consuming but absolutely worth it.
- This dough needs to rise 3x, the first time the dough (without the butter added) is placed in a bowl for 2 hours. Every 30 minutes the dough needs to be folded over.
- The second rise is done once the butter has been added to the dough and then refrigerated for 1-2 hours.
- Believe me they are worth every minute of your time!
This bread is very popular all over Italy. Sometimes I like to make an Easter Bread from the South of Italy, it is a much drier bread and is used as a dunking bread in your morning caffe latte or afternoon espresso or this Easter Sweet bread from the North of Italy. But the most popular Easter Bread which is called Colomba or Dove Bread is also worth a try.
How to colour eggs with Natural Dyes
If you decide to use coloured eggs in your bread and you don’t want to use regular dyes then there are Natural Dyes that you can use. Vegetables and spices are great for dying eggs especially red onions, paprika, dill seed and even red cabbage.
What is the significance of Easter Bread?
Italian Easter Bread when it is baked in the shape of a wreath it is to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ. When the dough is braided with three pieces it represents the Holy Trinity.
Adding an egg to the bread represents rebirth, Christ rising from the dead.
How to Store Italian Easter Bread
Be sure to store the Brioche Bread in an air tight container or bag for up to 5 days. The breads can also be frozen again in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2 months. Just be sure to remove the egg before freezing.
So if you would like to surprise your family and friends with a delicious soft Italian Easter Bread, then I hope you give this a try and let me know how you like it. Enjoy!
Traditional Italian Easter Bread
- 1 3/4 cups +2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt*
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lukewarm milk (I used 2 % milk)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 eggs (room temperature) (slightly beaten)
- 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
If using unsalted butter add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2-4 eggs (uncooked and dyed whatever colour you like)
- 2-4 tablespoons sprinkles* (if desired)
- In the bowl of a stand up mixer whisk together the flour, salt, zest and sugar, make a well in the centre and add the milk and yeast, mix together with a fork. Then add the eggs. With the dough hook attachment knead for approximately 1 minute just to combine.
- Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise 2 hours, every 30 minutes fold both ends into the middle (repeating 4 times).
- When the time has passed add the butter a little at a time, on medium high speed with the dough hook, knead just to combine all the butter, then let the dough rest 10 minutes. Knead again for 5-6 minutes until smooth and the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each part into 2 ropes (10-12 inches / 25-30cm), join 2 ropes at the top and twist the ends one over the other (see photo), join the ends to form a wreath (circle) repeat with the remaining ropes. Place the wreaths on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 1-2 hours or doubled in bulk.
- 15 minutes before rising time has finished pre heat oven to 390F (195C).
- Add a dyed uncooked egg (if desired) to the centre of the wreath then brush the wreaths with the egg wash (be careful not to brush the eggs) and sprinkle with the sprinkles. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden, or when tapped on the bottom and there is a hollow sound. Immediately move the baked buns to a wire rack to cool. Let cool before serving. Enjoy!
- In a small bowl beat together the egg and water.
I am an experienced baker. For instruction #3 do you mean knead with the dough hook or by hand?
3. When the time has passed add the butter a little at a time, on medium high speed with the dough hook, knead just to combine all the butter, then let the dough rest 10 minutes. Knead again for 5-6 minutes until smooth and the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Hi Tiffany, I am a little confused, it does say to knead it with the dough hook. So yes knead with the dough hook and not by hand. 🙂
Oops, I meant inexperienced 🙂
Hi Tiffany, haha I was wondering. Don’t worry any problems just ask. Take care!
Michelle B says
Love this recipe! I have made this recipe twice now. Each time I have altered it slightly and I will again next year, which I think will be my final alteration. The recipe is wonderful as is! I just prefer a sweeter bread.
• I make this as one large bread and I use 5 cooked and colored eggs in it. The eggs are only for decoration for us and we don’t bother to eat them.
• I triple the sugar ingredient.
• I increased the zest. Next year I will increase the lemon zest to 1 full cup, just because I love all things lemon flavored.
• After I egg wash, I heavily cover in large sugar crystals before sprinkling the pastel nonpareils sprinkles.
• NOTE: In my experience, if your home isn’t very warm, your dough may not rise well. I had to heat my oven slightly then turn it off and allow my dough to rise in the oven. It just wouldn’t rise on my counter.
Hi Michelle, thanks so much, and thanks for the tips on the nonpareils, I also have to rise my dough by heating my oven first. My house is also pretty chilly. Take care and have a great weekend!
Can you use convection bake? My eggs didn’t cook in the middle.
Hi Meredith, I suppose you could. I don’t have one, so I really don’t know for sure, but I don’t see why not. 🙂
Followed directions to a T and it was amazing, it definitely went really good with frosting on it (I did 1cup powdered sugar, 2tbs milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla for that)
Hi Sam, thanks so much, glad you liked. Take care!
Do I store it in the refrigerator because of the eggs?
Hi Meredith, you can keep it at room temperature well wrapped for a day then move to the fridge for 4-5 days. Take care!
Can you bake this as a single loaf? If so, how would you adjust the baking time?
Hi Cathy, yes you can bake it as a loaf, I would bake for about 25-30 minutes of check to make sure it’s baked, internal temperature is 190F/88C. If it starts to brown too much on top, then cover it loosely with foil and continue baking. Hope that helps.
Can I leave in the refrigerator for longer than two hours?
I prep the door on a Saturday can I bake it on the Sunday and just leave in the refrigerator?
Hi Nick, yes that should be fine, just bring it to room temperature for about an hour before continuing with the recipe. Happy Easter!
Sorry for the spelling and grammar errors in the last message. I was making the dough (door LOL), and I tried to speak to my phone instead of typing the message.
Thanks for getting back so quickly. I made this bread last year, and it was excellent.
I told my mom I would make for her Easter dinner And bring it.
Now that I know I can leave the dough overnight, I will bake it before I leave tomorrow so it’s fresh.
Happy Easter, and thanks for the recipe.
Hi Nick, haha don’t worry, glad you like the bread. Let me know how it goes. Happy Easter to you and your family. Take care!
Hi, what if I don’t have a mixer? How can I mix in the butter?
Hi Nicole, you’ll have to knead it in with your hands.
Carly F. says
Hi! Can this recipe be made with oil instead of butter? If so, what amount would you recommend?
Hi Carly yes I think oil would work, I would recommend you use 6 tablespoons of oil instead for the butter. Let me know how it goes. If you find it too dry then add a bit more oil, too wet a bit more flour. But I think that should work. Let me know how it goes. Take care and Happy Easter!