Pane di Pasqua is a beautiful tradition that is found in most Italian homes for Easter. It is a light and fluffy bread that is perfect for spring and yet holds up to the weight of eggs being cooked in it. It is also a fun bread to make and decorate as a group.
Based on religious traditions and the celebration for the end of Lent and Easter, “Italian Easter Bread” incorporates many of the symbols from Catholism and the Italian heritage into one pretty desert bread. Anise, cinnamon or vanilla can be used to give this recipe a fresh twist and a deeper flavor profile.
I love making these and started making each of the babies their own a few years ago, one – so that Zia was the most awesomest and spoiled the babies appropriately (more than the grandparents – this only applies for food); and two – so that I could play with different flavors and decorations. Don’t judge, I get to decorate Easter eggs, as an adult, however, I want!!
Anyways, this bread is one of those you know takes time, but is all the better for it. It’s delicious. If you want it to be savory – add ½ tsp of anise and don’t do the icing. If you want it to be more breakfast-y – add ½ tsp of cinnamon and only 1 Tbsp of milk instead of two in the icing. This is one of those recipes you can play with and change up for your family’s preference. I also like making the eggs specific to the babies. Each year, they know who’s is who, without me saying a word.
Zia loves y’all!
Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.S.D. Gordon
GOOD FOOD. GOOD FRIENDS. GOOD TIMES.
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Italian Easter Bread - Pane di PasquaPrint This
- 4 cups All-Purpose Flour (plus extra for flouring boards)
- ¾ cup Whole Milk
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 large Orange, zested and juiced
- 2 ¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (1 envelope)
- 4 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted for brushing dough before cooking
- Colored Sprinkles
- 5-6 Eggs, raw and dyed
- 1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
- Dye raw eggs in Easter color kit and put back in refrigerator until ready to use
- Zest orange and rub the zest into the sugar. The sugar will become moist.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until it is lukewarm (between 110-115F) and turn off the heat.
- Once the milk is at the correct temperature, stir in the sugar zest mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Add the yeast, stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and yeast mixture to the flour and mix. It will be rough and stringy.
- Add melted butter and orange juice to the dough and combine.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat 4 eggs and salt together. Add to the dough mixture and continue mixing until incorporated.
- You may need to add more flour, depending on how much orange juice you got from your fruit. Add 1 Tablespoon of flour at a time, until a sticky ball dough has formed.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, adding a small amount of flour, if needed, until the dough is soft and elastic. Dough stays slightly tacky, don’t over knead.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat completely and cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 60-90 minutes, until doubled.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and split dough into three even balls. ** OR Note2**
- Roll each of the dough balls into three 24-inch long ropes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and loosely braid the three ropes together. Form a ring and twist the ends together, pinching the dough to seal into a closed ring.
- Brush the top of the braided ring with melted butter and tuck in the dyed eggs into the braids. Cover the bread with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 350F.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk confectioner’s sugar and milk together until completely incorporated. This should be very loose.
- Using a spoon, drip sugar over the dough, careful of not covering the eggs. Add sprinkles on the wet sugar drip and let sugar dry before moving off the wire rack.
Note1: If you want a savory flavor, add ½ tsp anise to the dough. If you want it breakfast-y, add ½ tsp cinnamon to the dough.
Note2: If you want individual Easter breads, cut dough into 6 pieces. Then cut each of those piece into 3 smaller pieces. Roll into 10-12inch ropes and braid, placing one dyed egg in the center, like a bird’s nest. Bake 18-20 minutes.