Your cherished family recipes are usually a labor of love. For one Taste of Home contributor—Pat Merkovich from Milwaukee, Wisconsin—that special recipe is her Grandma Nardi’s Easter bread. Pat remembers how her grandmother taught her the recipe when she was a girl. Now we’ll show you how to make Easter bread, too.
Who knows? Maybe it will become a beloved tradition for your family!
How to Make Italian Easter Bread
For the Eggs:
- 3 large eggs
- Assorted food coloring
For the Bread:
- 2/3 cup warm whole milk (70° to 80°)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
For the Egg Wash:
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds or poppy seeds
Step 1: Dye the Eggs
The first step in making this Easter bread is to dye three eggs. If you already have some dyed, hard-boiled eggs on hand, feel free to use those. Otherwise, place three eggs in a small saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover and quickly bring to a boil. Remove eggs from heat and let stand 15 minutes. Then, rinse the eggs in cold water and place in ice water until completely cooled.
To dye, drain the eggs and use food coloring or an egg-dyeing kit, following package directions to reach your desired shade. Let eggs rest until completely dry.
Step 2: Make the Dough
Next, we’re going to make the dough. For this step, you have two options: use a bread machine or mix the dough by hand. The machine is easier, but we understand that not everyone owns this appliance.
To Make Dough in a Bread Machine:
In the bread machine pan, place the warm milk, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast. (Consult your manufacturer’s manual for the recommended order.) Select the machine’s dough setting and hit start. After the dough has been mixing for 5 minutes, open the lid and add 1-2 tablespoons of additional milk or flour, if needed.
To Make Dough by Hand:
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, yeast, salt and 1 cup of flour. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter to 120°-130°. Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredients and use a hand mixer to beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs; then beat on high for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. The dough will be sticky. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour.
Step 3: Shape Bread
When the bread machine cycle is completed or the dough has rested for an hour, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch it down and divide into thirds. Roll each portion into a 15-inch rope. Place the ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid. Shape the braided dough into a ring, pinching the ends together to seal.
Step 4: Add the Eggs
Lightly coat the dyed eggs with oil and arrange them on the braid. Carefully tuck them between ropes. Then, create the egg wash. Whisk together the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the wash over the dough and sprinkle with seeds.
Step 5: Let Rise
Cover the bread with a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
Step 6: Bake and Enjoy
Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake bread for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate leftovers.
And there you have it! Grandma Nardi’s Easter bread. If you’re looking for another recipe to make, try one of our other Italian baking recipes.