Introduction: Italian Braided Easter Bread

Every Easter my mother would make this bread, and today I'm passing it along to you.
Traditionally this bread was made on Holy Thursday.

Step 1: Ingredients

Bread
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
4-5 raw eggs, dyed if desired

Glaze
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk

Step 2: Preparations

The eggs
The eggs need to be raw, don't hard boil them. Also, dye your eggs to make the bread more colorful. If you have a few kids lying around, they come in really handy for this.

The Bread
  1. In a large bowl or mixer, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is melted.
  2. Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add the two beaten eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Some notes:
  • I use instant yeast, so I don't need to proof it. You may need to.
  • The dough will be sticky after it is mixed.
  • I mix the dough in a kitchen aid mixer but I use my bread machine to let the dough rise in.

Step 3: Bread Machine Alternative

I played around with the bread machine too. I combined all the ingredients and turned on the dough cycle. I let it raise until it was doubled in size which was a little longer than the dough cycle on the machine. It seemed to work fine.

Step 4: Making the Braid

  1. Once the dough has doubled, deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.
  3. On a buttered baking sheet, form a braid with the dough, inserting the colored eggs as you go. Seal the end of the braid together.
  4. Wipe the dough with the egg wash and cover loosely with piece of saran wrapped sprayed with nonstick spray. On top of the saran, place a damp cloth.
  5. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
Some notes:
  • How to braid.
  • I wipe the eggs with a little oil to make them look shiny.
  • I like to keep the long braid but a lot of people join the two ends to form a braided ring. It's up to you.

Step 5: The Finished Product

The bread is ready when it is golden brown. The eggs will also be completely cooked.
The bread is best right out of the oven.
If you don't eat the eggs right away, store them in the refrigerator.

Comments

author
acuchetto (author)2014-01-08

My grandmother used to make small loaves for each family member on Easter. Hers had raisins and anise, but no colored eggs like yours. She was from Rome, but came to the states at 16. She called it "cha cha bread".

author
CocoCinelle (author)2012-03-19

I think that to save on the eggs (hard cooked eggs on a sweet bun have no additional value taste wise), you could also just empty your egg shells by making a hole at both ends of the eggs: http://www.ehow.com/how_15776_hollow-egg.html

then colour it, and then you can use the eggs for your pastry in an efficient way.

I'll definitely do it this year for easter!!

author
pcooper2 (author)CocoCinelle2013-03-18

The eggs aren't there for mere decoration. It's part of the traditional recipe. You might as well substitute plaster for the flour used in the dough.

author
jstorm1 (author)2011-04-24

erm, your easter bread is Jewish challah. were your relatives cryptojews?

author
junits15 (author)jstorm12011-04-24

No way man, I'm Italian and my mom and both my grandmothers make this every easter.

author
the_greatgazoo (author)junits152011-08-09

Don't be so offended.
Jewish is a religion, not a nationality
There are several Jewish Italians

All can enjoy a good bread.

author
junits15 (author)the_greatgazoo2011-08-15

lol I'm not offended

author
jstorm1 (author)junits152011-04-24

Well, it's still totally challah whether you make it on Christmas or Easter. lol.

author
junits15 (author)jstorm12011-04-25

its got a different texture, and its more flaky like a pastry

author
csadelman (author)2011-05-09

The colored eggs, are they raw eggs in shell and nestled between bread dough before you bake it in the oven? or are they already hard boiled before baking? Thanks.

author
target022 (author)csadelman2011-05-09

Yes, they are raw in the dough before you bake it.

author
csadelman (author)target0222011-05-10

i see. So it will not explode when baking? I had a very bad experience when I microwaved a raw egg, it just exploded in there and made a HUGE mess.

author
target022 (author)csadelman2011-05-10

Nope, it will not explode. A microwave will definitely explode an egg.

author
copilarim (author)2011-04-25

i'm curious:D the colours are very nice and vivid, are they just paint for the eggs, or food colours?:)

author
target022 (author)copilarim2011-04-25

They are just the standard Easter eye dyes, Paas brand. I let them sit in the dye longer to get good and dark.

author
copilarim (author)target0222011-04-26

Thanks! I was asking because the colours reminded me of some candies we used to receive when we were little. :D

author
junits15 (author)2011-04-24

I'm surprised how many have not heard of this! For anybody that doesn't know, it doesn't have to be braided its more commonly found shaped like a giant jelly roll thats been looped into a small tire-shape. They don't always have eggs but it makes em look cooler IMO. Nice job on this BTW, outside of my family I've never seen anybody else make one with the eggs. :)

author
vavud (author)junits152011-04-25

I've heard of it. My grandmother used to make it every Easter. I wish she was still around!

author
baba87 (author)2011-04-24

The show "Cake Boss' is Italian and I've seen them make something similar. just a round shape tho (maybe in order to make a bunch at a time)

author
icsnerdics (author)2011-04-24

i'm italian and i've never seen anything like that.
i'm quite sure it's not a typical italian dish, it looks like a tsoureki, a typical greek dish.

author
target022 (author)icsnerdics2011-04-24

Have you heard of Panettone? It's a similar type of sweet bread. And you're right, it's similar to the Greek Tsoureki.

Italian Easter Bread

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