Italian Easter Bread

This year I decided to try another recipe for the braided Easter bread and this one comes courtesy of The Italian Dish whose photos I'm sure you've seen all over Pinterest.  Elaine has a wonderful step-by-step tutorial on how to braid these individual breads if you click HERE.  Also, if you're not familiar with how to tell when bread has been kneaded enough, please take a hop on over to The Kitchn where you'll learn how to tell when your dough is ready.  

This Easter bread has a wonderful texture.  It's very soft and light.  It's not as sweet as I thought it was going to be.  If I were to make this recipe again, I would partially cook the eggs so that they would be completely done by the time the bread is done OR I would change the egg wash to melted butter/milk so that it doesn't brown so quickly.  This bread was finished in about 16 - 18 minutes in my oven but that wasn't enough time for the eggs to be completely finished.  The bread did not need an entire hour for the second rising to double in size so I adjusted the recipe to check after 30 minutes.  The last thing I would change is to add a mixture of sanding sugar and rainbow sprinkles.  I think the sanding sugar would have added that extra bit of sweetness that this recipe needed :)
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  •  3.5 cups flour (approximate)
  • 1 beaten egg with 1 tsp water
  • 6 dyed partially cooked Easter eggs (it's best to dye eggs then let dry in the fridge overnight so the egg dye doesn't bleed into bread.)
  • rainbow sprinkles and sanding sugar
Directions: Makes 6 Individual Italian Easter Breads

1. Mix yeast, eggs, sugar and salt together.
2.  Heat milk and butter on low heat until butter melts.  Use a candy thermometer to make sure that the temperature is not higher than 120 degrees (so that the milk butter mixture does not kill the yeast) before adding it to the yeast egg mixture.
3.  In a bowl, whisk together half the amount of flour with the other yeast/egg/milk mixture.  Then using a dough hook, add gradually add flour until the dough isn't so sticky anymore.  Knead the bread by hand on a floured cutting board until the dough becomes smooth, elastic, holds it shape and passes the windowpane test.
4.  Boil water in a small pot that will fit alongside your baking sheet in the oven (according to Alton Brown when you boil water and place the water with your rising dough in the oven -- this creates the perfect temperature for bread to rise in.  This is such a key when you live in cold weather like I do!).
5.  Lightly oil a bowl and put the dough in the oven (along with the pot of boiling water) to rise for 1 hour.
6.  Take the dough out and punch down dough.  Reboil the water.  While the water is reboiling, cut the dough into 12 pieces.  Roll out each piece until it's about 14 inches in length.  Then take two pieces and twist together.  Pinch the ends. 
7.  Place each braided Easter bread onto a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.  Let rise in the oven once again (and place the boiling pot of water along with the bread) for 30 minutes or until double in size. 
8.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush egg water mixture on each bread. Add sprinkles and 1 dyed egg in the middle of each bread.  Bake for 20 minutes.


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