This traditional Italian Easter Bread is made using a soft sweet brioche dough which is then braided into a wreath. A colorful egg is placed in the center for a fun treat perfect for the Easter holiday!
Italian Easter Bread Recipe
- 5 ¼ All-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 ½ Cups Warm Milk (105°F)
- 2 Packages Active Dry Yeast (0.25 oz. each)
- 1/3 Cup Granulated sugar divided
- 3 Eggs divided
- 1/2 Cup Butter Softened (1 stick)
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 6 Hard Boiled Eggs
- Easter Pastel Nonpareil Sprinkles
- Step 1: Prepare the dough.In a large bowl, stir together the warm milk, yeast and 1tablespoon granulated sugar. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until it looks foamy.Add the softened butter, the remaining granulated sugar, 2eggs, salt and vanilla extract.Using an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment ,begin stirring the mixture on medium speed until everything is combined. Gradually add the flour and continue mixing until a smooth, elastic dough forms. This should take between 3 and 5 minutes.Spray a large bowl with non-stick vegetable spray. You can also grease the inside with soft butter if you prefer. Form the dough into a ball, then place it into the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand in a warm place for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Step 2: Color the eggs.While your dough proofs, color your hard-boiled eggs. To create beautiful custom colors, try making egg dye using food coloring!Need a quick and easy way to dye Easter eggs? Use Color Right concentrated food coloring, vinegar and water to create a whole rainbow of possibilities! Mix up your colors in small bowls or use a jumbo muffin pan to create 6 custom colors at once.Check out our blog post on How to Dye Easter Eggs for more helpful tips and tricks! How to Dye Eggs with Food Coloring
- Step 3: Shape the bread.Line two cookie pans with parchment paper.Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into 6 equal portions (about 7.5 oz. each). You’ll only be working one portion at a time, so be sure to cover the remaining portions with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.Divide working portion in half and roll each half into a log, about 12 to 14 in. long. Twist the pieces together to form a rope, then join the ends together to form a wreath shape.Place the dough wreath on the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough portions, placing three wreaths on each prepared pan.Loosely cover both pans and let the dough rise once more, about 30 to 45 minutes or until the wreaths have doubled in size.
- Step 4: Bake the bread.Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place one hard-boiled egg in the center of each wreath.In a small bowl, beat the remaining raw egg with 2tablespoons of water. Brush this egg wash gently over each bread wreath, taking care to avoid the egg in the center. Sprinkle with the pastel nonpareils.Bake the bread wreaths for 20 to 23 minutes, or until the breads are golden brown and sound hallow when tapped. Let them cool completely on cooling grids.
Note from the Test Kitchen:
If desired, you can also use raw dyed eggs in the center of your bread wreaths. The eggs will be about soft-boiled consistency after baking in the oven.
How to Store Italian Easter Bread
To store any leftover breads, remove the hard-boiled egg from the center. Store the breads in an air-tight container at room temperature and store the remaining hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator.