Italian Easter Bread Recipe

What we have here is something similar to brioche, though not as fussy. You mix it all together in one step (no beating in the butter once the dough is made) and let it rise as you would any bread dough. The result is a bread that’s still quite soft and rich, but without the explosive rise of brioche, which in this context is a good thing. You’ll need:

4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter
6 ounces (3/4 cup) milk
1 lb. 1. 1/2 ounces (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of one orange
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 hard boiled eggs, dyed Easter colors
egg wash

Combine the butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and zap in bursts of 10 seconds until the butter is completely melted. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Next, combine the flour with the instant yeast, salt, cinnamon and orange zest in a large bowl and whisk everything together.

Pour the cooled milk and butter mixture into the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle (beater), then add the sugar and lightly beaten eggs. Stir the mixture together on low, then steadily add the flour mixture.

The whole thing should come together into a soft dough. If the dough appears quite sticky when you’re done, add up to another half a cup or so.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise about two hours until it is more or less doubled.

There are lots of ways to shape this bread. Stay tuned for the tutorial for more on that.

3 thoughts on “Italian Easter Bread Recipe”

  1. Hi Joe – My Italian MIL makes the Easter bread every year. It’s her “thing” and though we look forward to it every year, it is always too dry and crumbly. So, my SIL’s and I compared her recipe to others on the web. Yours is nothing like hers but I trust you so I used your recipe but changed the spices to get the flavor we’re used too. I omitted the cinnamon and orange and added 1/8 tsp anise oil and 2 tsp anise seed. I divided dough and made two small braided wreaths and three large buns. The flavor and texture were great. I’m going to make again and bake in a loaf pan (shape we’re used too) . What size loaf pan should I try; 8.5 x 4.5 or 9 x 5? Happy Easter to the Pastry Family!

    1. Hey Heather!

      Sorry for the late reply! I’d prefer the slightly smaller one since I like a taller loaf!

      So glad this worked so well for you. I considered doing the traditional anise, but it’s too much for some people (mainly my daughters). Thanks very much for getting back to me on this and happy Easter!


      – Joe

  2. Hi Joe!

    The Greeks use a similar recipe for the Easter sweet bread, tsoureki. This year I am going full traditional and using the mastic resin in the bread. That said, I only have a great great aunt’s recipe that uses a 5lb bag of flour so I am going to try your version but with the Greek flavorings. Wish me luck!

    Have you ever used mastic resin in baking?

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