Italian Easter Sweet Bread
We used to eat this all the time for Easter but this recipe is great any time, year-round. One bite of this lightly sweetened Italian Easter Sweet Bread will bring you right back to your childhood. Studded with eggs dyed whatever colors you would like, this traditional Easter Bread recipe is the perfect treat for your Easter feast!
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 envelope yeast, about 2 1/2 teaspoons
- 1/2 cup warm water, about 110°F
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 hard boiled eggs, optional
- multi-colored sprinkles to decorate
- 1 egg, beaten with a little bit of water to make an egg wash
Preparation time 185mins
Cooking time 215mins
Adapted from laurainthekitchen.com
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter together just until the butter melts, set aside to cool.
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the warm water and stir to mix, then sprinkle the yeast over top of the warm sugar and water and set aside for about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with a hand held whisk, mix together the eggs, and sugar until combined, add the butter, then and milk mixture, then the yeast and water mixture, then add the vanilla and orange zest, mix everything together so you have all the wet ingredients well-combined.
Switch the attachment to a dough hook and add in 4/12 cups of the flour and the salt, mix until a soft dough forms. Gradually add a little more flour, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, to make a nice smooth, but slightly sticky dough.
Lightly grease a large bowl with some vegetable oil, place the ball of dough in the oiled bowl and brush a tiny bit of oil over the top as well. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.
Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and brush them lightly with some melted butter, set aside.
Once the dough has risen properly, dump onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down and cut into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 22 inches long. Lay 2 ropes at a time side by side in front of you loosely braid them together.
Lift the braid onto the prepared baking sheet and pinch the ends to seal, so that you now have a circle. Place 3 eggs in each circle lengthwise, tucking them between the ropes.
Cover with plastic wrap and place them somewhere warm for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle over some sprinkles, bake them for 30 minutes or until golden, making sure to rotate the baking sheets half way though for even baking.
Let them cool completely and then slice and serve.
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