Easter bread recipe Italian
When it comes to the Easter bread recipe, the Web is full of great recipes but my recipe is traditionally Italian. A traditional Italian Easter bread recipe we use to prepare at home, perfect with a cup of coffee or tea but also eaten with jam or, why not?, charcuterie.
Bread has a big importance for Italians on Easter time: no matter if you’re a Catholic or not, we grew up with the firm idea that bread is sacre and we need to treat it with respect and love. Easter bread is something baked traditionally all over Italy, in different ways but, most of the time, in the same shape.
In the past it was linked to Christ’s resurrection and the fact that it was baked after the fast of the Lent made it rich and extremely flavored. Today, the religious meaning is not that strong anymore but the Bread is unmissable on Easter.
There are various types of Italian Easter bread: for example, in Naples the “pane di Pasqua” is called “casatiello” and it’s a massive bread filled with charcuterie and cheese, extremely rich in taste and flavour. If you wanna truly live like an Italian, you should try my homemade casatiello recipe for Easter.
One of the most traditional Easter breads is sweet, soft and extremely scented: the dough is prepared with eggs and eggs are also used as a decoration. It’s common to put the Easter bread in the middle of the dinner table and let guests take their pieces with their hands, eggs included: that’s because eating means sharing and bread is considered the food par excellence to share in Italy.
The same bread can also be prepared in individual pieces, to be served to each person around the table or to be gifted.
With the following recipe you will make 8 Individual Easter Breads but with the same dough you can also make one big Italian Easter bread ring.
Ingredients for 8 Individual Italian Easter Bread Rings (or a big one)
Easter bread recipe Italian
- Put the sultanas to soak in warm water;
- Sift the two flours into a large bowl, then mix them with the sugar using a spoon;
- Heat the milk and pour one part into a glass. Add the yeast and let the mixture rest for a few minutes, then mix well to dissolve the powder;
- Once completely mixed, pour the milk and baking powder mixture into the bowl with the flour. Start mixing with a spoon to incorporate it. Add the rest of the warm milk;
- As soon as the milk it is absorbed, add the previously diced and softened butter and, once it is absorbed, also incorporate the eggs;
- Stir briefly with a spoon, then add the soaked and squeezed sultanas, the grated lemon rind and a pinch of salt;
- Begin to knead with the help of the hands, transferring the mixture to a floured pastry board. Work until you get a firm, smooth and elastic dough;
- Let it rest for 10 minutes, then take 8 equal portions to knead further;
- Let them rise covered and in a warm place for at least 3 hours;
- Cut each of the 8 pieces in half and roll out to about 9 inches long;
- Braid three rolls for each individual bread;
- Join the ends to each other to form a ring, twisting as necessary to keep the ropes from undoing themselves. Place an egg into the center of the ring;
- To make a big Easter bread, divide the dough in 3 portions, roll each portion and follow steps 11 and 12;
- Let them rise covered and in a warm place for 30 minutes more.
- Sprinkle the surface of the Easter bread with granulated sugar or funfetti, then bake for 40 minutes at 200° C in a hot oven.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave it to cool and serve.
Preparation time: 5 hours
The secrets for a perfect Italian Easter Bread
- Always give the dough a good rest. The rest allows the flour to absorb more of the water, resulting in softer bread;
- Never add too much flour when kneading but remember that a good soft Easter bread comes from wet dough;
- Always use good quality flour: flour is a well needed ingredient for this Easter bread and has to be chosen carefully. If you can, use Italian flour (called 00) but if you can’t use an all-purpose flour of good quality;
- Usually, to make crusty bread you need to create steam in the oven. In the case of this Easter bread this is not necessary, ’cause your bread has to be soft, not crunchy. So, do not put any water in the oven;
- If you want a surface, brush your bread with a beaten egg white before cooking it;
- Once ready, this bread lasts for at least one week if well kept into a paper bag. You can also freeze it, and use it when you want. Better to be eaten as soon as it’s ready.
Easter Bread in the World
Every country, or at least the majority of the countries, have their own version of an Easter bread. Here a few, divided by countries:
- Hot Cross Buns: From UK and Ireland, get my recipe here.
- Babka: Typical of Ukraine and Poland.
- Paasbrood: The Dutch version of a classical Easter bread
- Tsoureki: From Greece, extremely similar to the Italian Easter Bread (eggs included)
- Pao Doce: Typical of Portugal, with quite a lot of saffron.
- Pinca Sirnica: Typical of Croatia, get the recipe here.
- Choereg: Typical of Armenia, get the recipe here.
- Easter Challah: From Germany, get the recipe here.