How to Make Sweet Easter Bread With Colored Eggs
This pretty, colorful loaf looks like it was made by a bakery but it's surprisingly easy to pull off at home.
This sweet and fluffy bread is a beautiful centerpiece for your Easter table. Made with milk and sugar and flavored with lemon zest and anise, this traditional, braided loaf is nothing short of spring perfection. Colorful dyed eggs tucked into the soft dough top off this gorgeous Italian quick bread.
Sounds amazing, right? With Easter just around the corner, we couldn't keep this recipe to ourselves. Sal Scognamillo, chef and co-owner of Patsy's Italian Restaurant in New York, shares his take on the traditional recipe — straight from Patsy's Italian Family Cookbook. (That's family recipes straight from the restaurant!) Now, dive in.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- finely-grated zest 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature, plus softened butter for the bowl
- 6 dyed eggs
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon whole milk, for glaze
- 2 teaspoons nonpareils, for garnish
Makes 1 large loaf — approximately 10 servings
1. Combine the milk, sugar, eggs, yeast, lemon zest, anise seeds and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined.
2. Gradually add 3-1/2 cups of flour to make a thick batter.
3. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter, waiting for the first addition to be absorbed before adding more.
4. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that cleans the bowl.
5. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed (about 8 minutes), occasionally pulling down the dough as it climbs up the hook until it's smooth, shiny and slightly sticky.
6. Butter a large bowl, then gather the dough into a ball. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it, leaving the dough smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-1/4 hours. (Or refrigerate the dough for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.)
7. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
8. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece of dough underneath your palms into a 20-inch rope, tapering the ends. Line up the ropes next to each other. Starting from the center, braid the ropes to each end, pinching the rope ends together to shape into a tapered loaf.
9. Transfer the braid to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or about 1-1/2 hours for chilled dough).
10. During the last 15 minutes of rising, distribute the eggs evenly over the top of the braid, nesting them in the seams.
11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the braid lightly with the egg glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.
Dying the Eggs
To color eggs for this recipe, you can use a commercial coloring set or make your own coloring dip.
1. For each color, combine 1-1/2 cups boiling water and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar in a large glass.
2. Tint the liquid with food coloring gel, which has deeper colors than liquid coloring, although you can use liquid.
3. Dip each egg in the coloring mixture.
4. Let stand for at least 2 minutes or until the desired color is reached.
5. Remove the egg from the coloring mixture and let dry on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet.