Easy Italian Easter Bread

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. + rising Bake: 30 min.

Makes

1 loaf (20 pieces)

Updated: Apr. 11, 2023
This traditional Italian Easter bread is topped with colored raw eggs, which cook as the bread bakes. It makes a gorgeous Easter centerpiece. —June Formanek, Belle Plaine, Iowa
Easy Italian Easter Bread Recipe photo by Taste of Home
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Ingredients

  • 2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon aniseed
  • 5 uncooked eggs, dyed
  • GLAZE (optional):
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • Decorator candies

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a large saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120°-130°. Add dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Punch dough down; turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in fruit, almonds and aniseed until blended. Let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a 24-in. rope. Loosely twist ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet and form into a ring. Pinch ends together. Gently separate ropes and tuck dyed eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Brush with remaining egg.
  4. Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, for glaze, in a small bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over bread and sprinkle with candies.
Italian Easter Bread Tips

Can you make miniature Italian Easter breads from this recipe?

For miniature Easter breads you will need 8 eggs for the breads plus 1 to glaze the loaves, for a total of 9 eggs. Divide the dough into 8 pieces instead of 3 to make individual Italian Easter breads. Roll each piece into a smooth ball then make a hole in the center with your thumb and gently stretch the circle so it’s big enough to fit the egg after the dough rises.

After the first rise, place an egg in the center of each circle. Cover as directed for the second rise. Let the circles rise until almost doubled in size, about 15-20 minutes.

Brush with remaining egg as directed in the recipe and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. The finished breads will be 2-3 servings each. The individual loaves are too small to braid (the braided breads symbolize the crown of thorns) but they still contain the egg in the center symbolizing new life.

The richness of the sweet dough enriched with eggs, sugar and dried fruit is considered a celebration bread after the fasting Christians observe during Lent.

If your mini Italian Easter breads are a hit, try more Easter bread recipes.

Can you eat the egg after the Italian Easter bread has been baked?

The bake time and temperature on this bread makes the eggs safe to eat. However, the texture of the baked eggs is between a soft-boiled egg and a hard-boiled egg, but drier. You may find that adding them to a salad that uses mayonnaise, like a creamy potato salad, is the tastiest way to enjoy the eggs.

How long will Italian Easter bread last?

Easter bread will last 3-5 days stored on the counter in a sealed bag. Remove any uneaten eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The bread is softest and freshest on the first day. After that, enjoy it toasted or use it for French toast or a French toast casserole, or a delicious bread pudding recipe.

Catherine Ward, Taste of Home Prep Kitchen Manager

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 145 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 78mg cholesterol, 166mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.