Easy Italian Easter Bread

This Easy Italian Easter Bread is simple and delicious. No need to be an expert bread maker to make this soft bread. Delicious plain or add a little citrus flavouring. Perfect as a breakfast or snack bread.

easter bread on a pink napkin with 1 slice cut.

How to make it

In a large bowl or stand up mixer, whisk together the flour, zest, salt and sugar, add the yeast and mix gently, make a well in the middle and add the egg, butter, vanilla and milk.

mixing the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and adding the milk & egg.

Mix with a fork until it is almost combined. Then with the dough hook knead the dough until smooth, the dough will remain a little sticky, (this dough can also be kneaded by hand).

kneading to make a smooth dough.

Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and form into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Wrapping the dough and refrigerating.

Remove the dough from the fridge and form into 3 ropes, join the 3 ends and braid, starting with the one on the right into the middle, then left into the middle.

forming the dough into 3 ropes and braiding.

Until you have a finished braid.

forming a braid.

Place the braid into the prepared loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled.

the bread braid in a loaf pan before and after rising.

Brush the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake until golden. Immediately move the bread to a wire rack to cool.

the bread braid before and after baked

What is Brioche Bread

Originating in France, brioche bread is known for its thin outer golden-brown crust and versatility as it is used for so many things such as Easy Bread Pudding.

The addition of sugar, however, didn’t come until later which took it from bread to pastry. Now that sugar has been added to the recipe, it allows for the addition of other things like raisins which makes it the perfect breakfast or dessert.

If you have ever bought brioche in a store you’ll know it is more expensive than regular bread. This is because of the increased amount of eggs and butter and the more expensive the ingredients, the more expensive the bread.

bread with a slice cut.

How to know when the bread is done

The finished bread should be golden brown on the top, if the bread is browning too much before it is done, then cover it with foil and continue baking. The bread is done when the inside temperature reaches 190F (88C).

What does Italian Easter Bread Symbolize?

Bread is also an important part of any Easter celebration. Italian Easter Bread is rich with symbolism, baked in the shape of a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. The three pieces of dough braided together represent the three elements of the Holy Trinity.

the whole bread loaf on a pink napkin.

How to store it

To store the baked bread place it in an airtight container or bag. It will keep at room temperature for a few days, or in the fridge for around a week. Although keeping it in the fridge could dry it out. Warm it in a low oven for about 10 minutes before serving.

How to freeze the dough

The dough can also be frozen, be sure to freeze it after the final rise in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

When ready to make, thaw the dough overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature (about an hour should do), shape and bake the dough as directed in the recipe.

How to freeze the baked bread

You can also freeze the baked dough, be sure to cool the dough completely then wrap in plastic or foil and place in a freezer safe bag. The bread will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

So if you are looking for a delicious bread to make this Easter, I hope you try this Easy Italian Easter Bread and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

a slice of easter bread on a pink napkin.
easter bread on a pink napkin with 1 slice cut.

Easy Italian Easter Bread

Rosemary Molloy
This Easy Italian Easter Bread is simple and delicious. No need to be an expert bread maker to make this delicious soft bread.
4.50 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Resting/Rising Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 50 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine French, Italian
Servings 1 loaf
Calories 1818 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 zest lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons granulated sugar
  • teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup + ½ tablespoon milk – lukewarm (I used whole)

EGG WASH

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons nonpareils

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl or stand up mixer, whisk together the flour, zest, salt and sugar, add the yeast and mix gently, make a well in the middle and add the egg, butter, vanilla and milk.
  • Mix with a fork until it is almost combined. Then with the dough hook on speed 2, knead the dough for 7 minutes, until smooth slightly sticky, (this dough can also be kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes).
  • Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and form into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and form into 3 ropes (approximately 14 inches/30 cm long each), join the 3 ends and braid, starting with the one on the right into the middle, then left into the middle, until you have a finished braid. Gently squish the braid to make it smaller and more compact to fit the pan, then place it into a lightly greased loaf pan (9 -9.5 inch / 22-24cm), cover and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
  • Brush the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Immediately move the bread to a wire rack to cool.

EGG WASH

  • Beat together the egg and water.

Notes

If you find the bread is browning too much before it is baked through, then cover it with foil and continue baking.

Nutrition

Calories: 1818kcalCarbohydrates: 302gProtein: 55gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 422mgSodium: 984mgPotassium: 812mgFiber: 13gSugar: 56gVitamin A: 1405IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 251mgIron: 17mg
Keyword brioche bread, easter bread, Italian bread, Italian easter bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

15 Comments

  1. This looks so good! I’ve featured it today at the Thursday Favorite Things party. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Rosemary,

    I made your easy Italian Easter bread. I followed recipe perfectly. After kneading in my Kitchen Aid
    for the time required, it was very tough, not sticky at all. I baked it and it was very dense and did
    not rise much. Any idea on why the dough was so tough?

    I want to try it again. Thank you
    Denise

  3. 3 stars
    Happy Easter Rosemary. I made this bread for the first time for our Easter breakfast. My husband & I were disappointed. It looked great. We found it to be too dense for a brioche. I’m meticulous about following recipes so can’t figure out what went wrong. Your thoughts. I used a mixer to knead the bread.

  4. Are you adding the yeast to the flour mixture without activating it first? Should it be activated in a separate bowl with warm water and sugar?

      1. I was wondering the same thing – you mention warm water but there in none listed in the recipe. Can you please explain how to add the yeast???

      2. Hi Nancy, I’am sorry but I do not see water mentioned at all in the post, the yeast is activated with warm milk. The complete instructions are in the recipe card which is at the bottom of the post. Hope that helps. Let me know.

      3. Thank you – I was talking about the warm water you mention to Denise in the post above mine. I’m so excited to try this. I love your recipes!

  5. Can this bread be prepared the night before, refrigerated overnight and then braided for the final rise and baking? If so this would be a wonderful morning bread.

    Thank you

  6. Hi,
    This bread look very tasty.
    After reading the directions and looking at the pictures, there is a section that talks
    about the symbolism. Does this mean that this dough can also be braided and shaped
    into a wreath and then let it rise on a cookie sheet before baking?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Camille, sure you can do that too. I have done it that way before, or even make 2 or 3 small wreaths, although the baking time will be shorter about 20 minutes for the smaller breads. Let me know how it goes.

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