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Italian Easter bread

by Nisha Thomas
Italian Easter bread

Italian Easter bread

PT1H

Why not try?

I stumbled upon the Italian Easter Bread on a search for an easy recipe for the holiday. It was written by a lovely lady who knew all about Italian traditions and such and the bread looked so colourful with the dyed eggs, I decided it was going to be my centrepiece this Easter.

It's a beautiful sweet bread with the dyed eggs tucked into the braids to symbolise Easter - in the form of rebirth and new life. The eggs are inserted into the braids raw, but dont worry, they will cook in the oven along with the bread. I peeled the egg once it was done and used it up in a salad, because the bread tasted so fantastic on its own.

The eggs are traditionally part of the Italian bread, but you can also do a simple braid with the dough and bake that on its own instead. Feel free to make a large wreath and insert a couple of eggs into the braids, as opposed to the one I did, where I made one ring and just put an egg in the centre. Dyeing the egg can be a fun activity for kids, so get them involved as well.

The left-over bread would also make for gorgeous French Toast or just dunk into your morning tea to keep things simple. It does make for a pretty interesting centrepiece for your Easter table, and a tasty one at that. Happy Easter.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

  • Italian Easter bread

  • 390g of white bread flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 tsp dried yeast, active
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 95g of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, optional
  • 80g of butter, melted
  • 295ml of milk
  • To decorate

  • eggs
  • egg white, for egg wash
  • sprinkles
  • red food colouring, or colour of your choice
1
In the bowl of a free standing mixer throw in the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Mix well
2
Melt the butter in the milk, either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Don't boil it, warm it just until the butter melts. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast
3
Beat the egg into the flour mix followed by the vanilla and milk and butter mix. Give a stir to roughly mix it. Put on the dough hook and knead on medium for about 7 to 8 minutes
4
If you find that the dough is still wet, add some flour, bit by bit, till the dough starts pulling off the sides of the bowl
5
If you don't have a mixer, then follow all the steps and knead the dough by hand on a floured work surface until pliable and no longer sticky. This might take around 10 to 12 minutes
6
Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, loosely cover with a cloth or cling film and leave to prove for about 2 hours in a warm place or until it doubles in size. I usually keep it in an oven at about 20°C and it works
7
While the dough is proofing dye the eggs. Dilute the food colouring of your choice in warm water and gently place the egg in it. I used a brown egg, so lighter colours like pink and yellow wouldn't show, so I used red. Let the egg stay in the solution for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the stronger the colour
8
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down lightly and transfer on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes and divide the dough into 12 pieces
9
Roll each piece to form a rope around 1 inch in thickness and pair them up in two. Pinch the edges and twist them to form a braid of sorts and bring both the ends together to form a circle
10
Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and place the dyed egg into the centre of the circle. Keep aside to proof for another hour or so. When ready to bake, do an egg wash on the braided dough and spread the sprinkles on top
Egg wash the braided dough
11
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
12
Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until the bread is golden in colour. Cool on racks before slicing
Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes
 

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