This Easy Italian Easter Bread is simple and delicious. No need to be an expert bread maker to make this soft bread. Delicious plain or add a little citrus flavouring. Perfect as a breakfast or snack bread.
How to make it
In a large bowl or stand up mixer, whisk together the flour, zest, salt and sugar, add the yeast and mix gently, make a well in the middle and add the egg, butter, vanilla and milk.
Mix with a fork until it is almost combined. Then with the dough hook knead the dough until smooth, the dough will remain a little sticky, (this dough can also be kneaded by hand).
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and form into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Remove the dough from the fridge and form into 3 ropes, join the 3 ends and braid, starting with the one on the right into the middle, then left into the middle.
Until you have a finished braid.
Place the braid into the prepared loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled.
Brush the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake until golden. Immediately move the bread to a wire rack to cool.
What is Brioche Bread
Originating in France, brioche bread is known for its thin outer golden-brown crust and versatility as it is used for so many things such as Easy Bread Pudding.
The addition of sugar, however, didn't come until later which took it from bread to pastry. Now that sugar has been added to the recipe, it allows for the addition of other things like raisins which makes it the perfect breakfast or dessert.
If you have ever bought brioche in a store you'll know it is more expensive than regular bread. This is because of the increased amount of eggs and butter and the more expensive the ingredients, the more expensive the bread.
How to know when the bread is done
The finished bread should be golden brown on the top, if the bread is browning too much before it is done, then cover it with foil and continue baking. The bread is done when the inside temperature reaches 190F (88C).
What does Italian Easter Bread Symbolize?
Bread is also an important part of any Easter celebration. Italian Easter Bread is rich with symbolism, baked in the shape of a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. The three pieces of dough braided together represent the three elements of the Holy Trinity.
How to store it
To store the baked bread place it in an airtight container or bag. It will keep at room temperature for a few days, or in the fridge for around a week. Although keeping it in the fridge could dry it out. Warm it in a low oven for about 10 minutes before serving.
How to freeze the dough
The dough can also be frozen, be sure to freeze it after the final rise in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
When ready to make, thaw the dough overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature (about an hour should do), shape and bake the dough as directed in the recipe.
How to freeze the baked bread
You can also freeze the baked dough, be sure to cool the dough completely then wrap in plastic or foil and place in a freezer safe bag. The bread will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.
So if you are looking for a delicious bread to make this Easter, I hope you try this Easy Italian Easter Bread and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
Easy Italian Easter Bread
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 zest lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup + ½ tablespoon milk - lukewarm (I used whole)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons nonpareils
- In a large bowl or stand up mixer, whisk together the flour, zest, salt and sugar, add the yeast and mix gently, make a well in the middle and add the egg, butter, vanilla and milk.
- Mix with a fork until it is almost combined. Then with the dough hook on speed 2, knead the dough for 7 minutes, until smooth slightly sticky, (this dough can also be kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes).
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and form into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and form into 3 ropes (approximately 14 inches/30 cm long each), join the 3 ends and braid, starting with the one on the right into the middle, then left into the middle, until you have a finished braid. Gently squish the braid to make it smaller and more compact to fit the pan, then place it into a lightly greased loaf pan (9 -9.5 inch / 22-24cm), cover and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Brush the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Immediately move the bread to a wire rack to cool.
- Beat together the egg and water.