Also known as Pane di Pasqua, this Italian Easter Bread is a sweet and unique bread that has been a tradition in my Italian family for years!
Easter is such a beautiful time of the year. Between the weather getting more and more warmer, the fun of dying and decorating Easter eggs, and even making and/or receiving Easter baskets, it’s just an overall wonderful holiday!
Now, this Italian Easter Bread is something I grew up eating around this time of the year. It combines the fun of dying Easter eggs with baking to make this traditional Italian dessert. And yes, I said dessert. Even though this is a bread recipe, it’s really more of a dessert! It’s a much sweeter bread than most, plus there’s a creamy glaze spread on top.
And how could you deny a bread that has sprinkles on it?! It really makes the little “nests” look so unique.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 package rapid rise instant yeast
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 5-6 cups flour, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 7 uncooked eggs, room temperature, dyed in preferred colors
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons whole milk
- Rainbow nonpareils
- Warm the milk in the microwave for 45-60 seconds until just warm, not hot. Add in the package of rapid rise instant yeast and stir. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter and 2 cups of the flour on medium-speed until the mixture resembles a sandy texture. Then one at a time, beat in the 3 eggs. Slowly add in the milk/yeast mixture and sugar until combined. Add in the anise extract, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
- Using the dough hook, add in the rest (3-4 cups) of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff, and not longer sticky (however, it will be slightly tacky). Knead dough in mixer until smooth.
- Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a warm towel, and let rise in a warm place until at least doubled in sized (about 1-1 1/2 hours).
- Once fully risen, punch down the dough with your fist. Divide the dough into 14 even portions. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion into a 12” long strips. Take two strips, pinch one of the ends together, twist to form a braid, pinch the other end together, and loop into a circle. This will be the “nest” for the egg, so make sure the circle a good size to fit the egg. Repeat with the rest of the strips, making 7 nests altogether.
- Place the nests on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the dough with the melted butter. Cover with a warm towel to rise again for another hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 15 minutes before the nests are done rising.
- Once done rising again, place a dyed Easter egg into the middle of each nest, pushing down slightly to make an indentation.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack until cooled completely.
- Once completely cooled, make the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth and creamy. Add in more milk if consistency is too thick. Use a pastry brush, brush the glaze onto the top and sides of the bread, and sprinkle on the rainbow nonpareils. Don’t worry, you can be very generous with the glaze! Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Enjoy!
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