One of my favorite memories of being young at Easter wasn’t the bunny, the basket or even hunting eggs…it was my Nana’s Easter bread! It was always so soft and warm, slightly sweet, shaped like a baby with an egg in the belly, and I absolutely loved it! So, in honor of that memory, most Easters I make a my own Italian Easter Egg Bread. Sometimes it’s a braided wreath, sometimes it’s another shape – like a bunny or a basket, but as soon as I taste it it warms my soul. 😊
2/3 cup whole milk
5 Tbsp sugar
1 pkg Active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
3 eggs (2 for dough, plus one more for eggwash)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (cut up) room temperature (plus another 1/2 Tbsp or so melted to coat dough)
*and 3-6 dyed Easter eggs (do not need to be hard boiled, they’ll cook while the bread bakes)
I make mine in my stand mixer:
1. Heat milk in microwave for about 30 sec to warm, stir in 1 Tbsp sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and let sit until a bit foamy, about 5 min. Add eggs and whisk together.
2. Combine 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in stand mixer with dough hook. Add milk mixture. Add 1/2 cup butter (1 piece at a time) blending well. Mix on medium speed for about 5 min minutes until dough is soft and pulls away easily. My mixer can get a bit crazy here (usually on the 4/5 setting) so maybe hold a hand on it to secure! Lol! If dough still seems a bit sticky here, add flour about 1 Tbsp at a time and keep mixing until it pulls away easily.
3. Tuck the dough to shape into round mound and place in a greased bowl. Brush top of dough with a bit of melted butter and cover with plastic wrap.
4. Let dough rise in a warm area until doubled in size (about 1–1 1/2 hours).
5. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, divide it into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into about a 16-inch-long rope.
6. Braid dough down and then wrap into a circle shape to connect the ends together and secure. Tuck dyed eggs between braids, spacing evenly. Loosely cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm area until puffed up again about 35-45 minutes.
7. Whisk remaining egg with about 1 Tbsp warm water in a small bowl. Avoiding the dyed eggs, brush dough all over with egg wash. Bake at 375, until bread is golden – about 20 min or so. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.