Looking for a fun Easter recipe that the whole family will love? Read on to find a fun, creative, easy-to-follow Easter Sweet Bread recipe from Amelia Peck that everyone can help make!
The History of Traditional Italian Sweet Loaf
This sweet, braided loaf is native to all different regions of Italy, but its true origins are uncertain. Of course, many Italian cities claim to be the bread’s original creators. Variations on the basic recipe of “Pani de Pasqua” vary according to regional customs. Baked in the shape of a wreath, this pull-apart brioche bread symbolizes the crown and thorns worn by Jesus. The three braided pieces within the loaf represent the Holy Trinity, and the egg in the center represents the rebirth and resurrection of Christ. Plenty of other countries and cultures have variations of the Easter bread recipe, including Tsoureki from Armenia and Babka from Poland.
What do I love about this Italian Easter Bread tradition? It hands traditions down through generations and creates sweet memories. So break out your large bowl, start your dough, and get ready to bake some Easter Sweet Bread!
Easter of Days Gone By
Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. I have always appreciated the hope and love it represents, this year more than ever. I also love the music the choir sings at church. Easter brings about so many fond memories of growing up. Of course, as a little girl, acquiring an Easter dress that twirls was a top priority. Easter egg hunts where my grandparents hid money in a few of the eggs definitely increased the competition between my siblings and my cousins.
Easter Sweet Bread Memories
One of the highlights every year, even after we aged out of egg hunts and twirly dresses, was the amazing meal we shared with family. My favorite Easter specialty that my mom would always bake is the beautiful Easter Bread. It’s a sweet bread that is as delicious as it is eye-catching, with colorfully decorated eggs nestled in the twists. It can be a centerpiece that is passed around or the highlight of your buffet line.
Making the Most of Change…and Eating Easter Sweet Bread
This year, with COVID-19 in our world, I know our table will be a little smaller. It will be less about twirly dresses and more about being grateful for the health and well-being of my family…and it will definitely include Easter bread.
Easter Sweet Bread
- 1 package quick-rising active dry yeast
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine (melted)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
Easter Sweet Bread
- Sprinkle yeast in a small bowl with 3 tbs of warm water. Stir with a fork until dissolved
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade in place (not the dough blade! I made that rookie mistake the first round thinking I was so smart and it did not make that nice dough ball you are going to want)
- Pulse the dry ingredients for a few seconds to mix well
- With the motor running, add the yeast and butter mixtures
- Slowly pour in the milk until a moist dough forms into a ball around the center (keep an eye on things as you pour, you may not need all the milk)
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for one minute
- Round into a ball and place in a warm buttered bowl, turning to coat the top (meaning, make sure there is butter on top too)
- Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let it sit for one hour at room temperature. It should double in bulk.
- Once your dough ball doubles in size, turn it out onto a clean surface (and I’m sure during this time, all your surfaces are super clean!). Use a little flour if necessary and knead down, cover, and let rest (sounds like the spa day we’re all dreaming of when everything opens again!)
Constructing Your Easter Sweet Bread
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Divide your dough in two equal portions and roll each half into a 26 inch rope. You can also use three portions and braid the sections if you're feeling ambitious.
- Twist the two ropes together loosely, beginning at one end.
- Form into a circle and join the two ends together and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. You can add an egg wash if you desire.
- Have six colored Easter eggs ready and place them in the twists snugly (this can be a fun way to integrate your kids into the process by using eggs they decorated. Note: You do not need to use hard-boiled eggs in the bread as they will cook in the oven, and they aren’t meant to be eaten).).
- Cover and let rise in a draft-free location for 30 minutes
- Press the eggs down again and then pop it into the oven for 30 minutes or until bread is golden
- When you remove it from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack.
- Using a whisk, simply beat the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla together as you slowly add water to get the thickness you need to cover your bread.
Share Your Easter Bread Experience!
Does your family have any traditional Easter recipes? We also love baking the traditional easy-to-make hot cross buns and inventing new desserts that use leftover candy! Let us know about your favorites in the comments. Share this recipe through a FamilyApp group and start a new Easter Bread tradition!