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Overhead view of easter bread with blue egg
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Italian Easter Bread

The softest loaf of Italian Easter bread right from Nonna's recipe box. Makes 4 loaves of light and tender bread (about 800 grams per loaf or 16 servings per loaf)
Course Bread
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
bulk and final rise 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 64 servings
Calories 48kcal
Author Marie

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 2.5 cups granulated sugar divided
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1.5 cups warm milk
  • 2 lemons zested
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups oil divided (vegetable or canola)
  • 4.5 teaspoons of instant yeast (2 envelopes)
  • 10 cups all purpose flour up to 12 cups
  • egg wash (1 beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of water added)

For decorating (optional)

  • 4 medium eggs colored (not cooked)
  • powdered sugar icing 2 cups powdered sugar plus 2 to 3 tablespoons milk or water; add liquid one tablespoon at a time and whisk)
  • colored non-pareils

Instructions

  • Note that this makes 4 loaves of bread, so you may want to make half of the recipe to start.
  • In a small bowl, add the yeast to warm (but not hot or the yeast may die) milk and water, stir, and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and ½ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy (several minutes)
  • Add the lemon zest, extract, and ½ cup of the oil to the egg-sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  • Add the milk, water and yeast mixture to the batter and mix until combined.
  • Begin adding the flour slowly. Add only enough flour to make a very soft dough. Beat very well to allow the flour to be absorbed and avoid adding too much flour. You should aim for a dough that is soft like your earlobe.
  • After all the flour has been added, let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add the remaining sugar and oil, divided in parts by adding 1 cup sugar, followed by ½ cup oil, followed by 1 cup sugar, and then ¼ cup oil. Wait until each portion is absorbed before adding more sugar or oil.
  • Wait 10 minutes after all ingredients have been incorporated and add more flour if necessary. The dough should be stiff but still sticky.
  • Place dough in large bowl or dough bucket, cover, and allow to rise until double (1 to 2 hours; time will vary depending on room and dough temperature)
  • I use cooking spray on the countertop and also to coat my hands to make handing the dough easier.
  • Punch down the dough and let it bulk rise again for 1 to 2 hours (optional).
  • After the dough has risen a second time, punch it down again and form your loaves.
  • To form the loaves, begin by dividing the dough according to how many loaves you'd like to make (2 pieces if you made ½ the recipe or 4 pieces if you made the whole recipe).
  • For each loaf, you will then further divide each piece into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is about 2 feet long and then twist the pieces together.
  • Form the twist into a circle and then tuck the ends underneath.
  • Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet (2 per sheet).
  • If you are decorating with eggs, place a dyed egg in the center and gently push the egg down in the center.
  • Cover loaves loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  • When ready to bake, brush the loaves with the egg wash avoiding the dyed egg.
  • About 20 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degree F
  • Place loaves in center of oven and bake until lightly golden (about 40 minutes).
  • Begin checking loaves at 20-25 minutes and cover loosely with aluminum foil if they are browning too quickly)

Notes

Decorative colored eggs can be added raw or hard boiled; to prevent colored eggs from bleeding consider baking with a wooden egg and replacing with dyed hard boiled egg after the bread has baked. 
Store in airtight bag for 2 or 3 days or freeze bread for up to 1 month. 

Nutrition

Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.1mg