Decorating Easter eggs has always been a tradition for me at Easter time. I loved doing it as a kid, and I have helped my own kids decorate eggs every year since they were little. Even when we lived in Japan and couldn’t find our normal egg dye, we still dyed Easter eggs. This bread is the perfect accompaniment to a family egg dying party. Not only does it look delicious on an Easter brunch table, but it is so much fun to make with kids.
Pane di Pasqua, or Italian Easter bread, is a braided ring of delicious challa-type bread with a raw, decorated egg placed in the middle that is then baked. As the bread bakes in the oven, it bakes the egg along with it and you end up with a delicious hard-boiled egg, and bread to eat for Easter breakfast (or any breakfast).
When I showed this recipe to my kids this year, the excitement was palpable. They loved helping braid the bread, dye the eggs (just some food coloring, vinegar and water) and then top the bread with sprinkles. To say this is a hit with kids is an understatement! I hope that you will give it a try and enjoy this delicious recipe with your loved ones around Easter time.
Yield: 6 small braided breads
Time: 20 minutes mix, 3-4 hours rise, 40 minutes shape, 25 minutes bake
- 1 cup warm water
- ½-¾ cup sugar (depending how sweet you want your bread)
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 cup flour (initially, more will be added later)
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4-5 cups all purpose flour
- Flavorings (optional: orange zest, lemon zest, 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract)
- Colorful Sprinkles
- 1 egg for egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water)
- 6 raw eggs for dying
- Food coloring
- White vinegar
- Place warm water, sugar and instant yeast in a mixing bowl. Using a paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, mix in 1 cup of flour and stir well. Add salt and stir again. Then add the vegetable oil and eggs. If you want to add more flavor to the bread, now is the time. Add in some orange zest, lemon zest, almond/vanilla extract or a similar flavoring of your choosing. Mix all of these ingredients together until fully incorporated.
- Using a mixer (or by hand), begin adding the 4-5 cups of flour. Switch your mixer to a dough hook as you add in the flour, or begin kneading the dough by hand. Continue incorporating flour until the dough loses its stickiness or is just slightly sticky. This kneading process can take up to 10 minutes.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours (though this will vary depending on your kitchen temperature).
- While the dough is rising is the perfect time to dye your Easter Eggs. Mix together 3 drops of food coloring with ½ a teaspoon of white vinegar and about ¾ cup of water (this can be adjusted depending on how vibrant you want the colors). Dip or soak six raw eggs in the colors and let dry.
- After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope-like strand, about 10-12 inches.
- Pinch two strands together at the top and twist them around each other forming an easy twisted braid. Bring the end of the dough together with the top of the dough to form a braided circle and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. You will end up with six braided “nests” of dough.
- Place each Easter egg in the center of each nest of dough.
- Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and 1 tsp of water together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of each dough nest. Sprinkle some colorful sprinkles on top of the egg wash and cover with a kitchen towel.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and allow your dough to rise again, about 30-45 minutes.
- After the dough has risen and puffed up again, place your sheet pan in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. The egg will cook while in the oven along with the bread.
- Allow to cool a little before serving for Easter breakfast. Enjoy!
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂