Italian Easter Bread

Originally published March 2013; Updated March 2021

My husband comes from a big, Italian family and grew up with many more food traditions than I did. My favorite? Italian Easter Bread. His grandmother made it for everyone for years and when she died, the torch was passed on. This isn’t her recipe, but it’s better – the same amazing taste but much less finicky.

Loaf of braided sweet bread with sprinkles

Italian Easter Bread takes time, so we generally reserve it for Easter, but it’s worth the effort. This sweet, soft loaf is a real treat.

Jump to:

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 1/4 cup scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup flour (approximate – you may use a little more or less)

For topping:

  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • Sprinkles

You want to let your scalded milk cool for about 45 minutes before starting to make the dough. Milk that’s too hot will kill the yeast – and too cold won’t let it bloom properly.

Also, the flour measurement can vary quite a bit. Don’t stress if you go over quite a bit! Just concentrating on making sure the dough is not sticky.

Loaf of braided sweet bread with sprinkles

Directions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar.
  • Add in about half the flour and beat until smooth using a dough hook.
  • Slowly add the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms. Don’t worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with a dough hook or turn the dough out on floured board and knead.
  • Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
  • Punch dough down, divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope. Using three dough ropes, braid together and pinch ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining three dough ropes.
  • Transfer the braids to a lined baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
  • Brush each loaf with the beaten egg wash.  Decorate with sprinkles.
  • Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Patience is key with this bread. Don’t rush the rises and braid with care.

The loaves will rise more in the oven too – add more sprinkles to the top than you think it needs!

Loaf of braided sweet bread with sprinkles

More Recipes for Easter

This Italian Easter bread is always a staple on our Easter table! We also usually do ham for Easter dinner – this Fig and Orange Glazed Ham is a favorite – along with Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese.

For veggie sides, Cheesy Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Carrots with Honey and Thyme, and Bacon Parmesan Green Beans are all fantastic options!

Two of my favorite, fun desserts for Easter are my Easter Cookie Cake and Chocolate Bunny Brownies!

Recipe

Italian Easter Bread

Italian Easter Bread

Yield: 2 Loaves
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 1/4 cup scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup flour (approximate - you may use a little more or less)

For topping:

  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar.
    2. Add in about half the flour and beat until smooth using a dough hook.
    3. Slowly add the remaining flour until a stiff dough forms. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with a dough hook or turn the dough out on floured board and knead.
    4. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
    5. Punch dough down, divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope. Using three dough ropes, braid together and pinch ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining three dough ropes.
    6. Transfer the braids to a lined baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.
    7. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
    8. Brush each loaf with the beaten egg wash.  Decorate with sprinkles.
    9. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes

Adapted from The Italian Dish

Loaf of braided sweet bread with sprinkles

7 thoughts on “Italian Easter Bread

  1. Your bread looks perfect for Easter. I have had that happen with family recipes that are passed down as well. Glad you were able to find one that turns out consistently.

  2. Pingback: 30+ Easter Recipes - Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

  3. Pingback: My Favorite Recipes of 2013 | Kate's Recipe Box

  4. Pingback: What’s Baking: Ham and Cheese Quiche | Kate's Recipe Box

Leave a Reply to Carlee Cancel reply