This yeast-leavened Italian Easter Bread with colorful eggs is the perfect addition to the Easter table. Make this bright and beautiful brioche-like bread at home!
Pane di Pasqua literally translates to Easter Bread. This soft braided loaf is representative of the season and a holiday staple across Italy.
The origins are unclear, but almost every Italian family has its own recipe for this Easter eggs cake or bread, that has been brought down through the centuries. It looks very much like a sweet variant of the pizza di Pasqua bread that’s made with cheese.
The pizza di Pasqua or crescia di Pasqua from the Marche region of Italy is made with wheat flour, eggs, olive oil, yeast, milk along with pecorino and parmagiano cheese.
Pane di Pasqua doesn’t use cheese, and often includes raisins or candied fruit.
Why is Pane di Pasqua Shaped Like a Wreath?
In Christian tradition, this Easter bread is shaped like a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns that was placed on the Savior’s head.
Whole eggs are placed in the bread because the shell of the egg symbolizes the tomb Christ was laid in, and the meat of the egg symbolizes Christ who rose from the tomb.
There always has to be a sweet pane di pasqua on Italian tables for Easter because it represents Christ, the bread of life.
The fluffy and sweet intricately braided sweet loaf may seem difficult to make, but it’s really easy to make at home!
Recipe Pointers For Italian Easter Bread
- Catholic tradition uses eggs dyed red, but colored ones are perfect too!
- You can skip the colored eggs in this easter eggs cake if you want to make only the bread.
- You shouldn’t cook the eggs before baking so that they don’t get too hard later.
- If you have more time, you can leave the bread to rise for up to 4 hours!
- You can make 5 or 6 smaller individual-sized bread if you want to. Just remember to dye additional eggs.
- The smaller individual-sized eggs look like bunny paws. Perfect for Easter and Spring!
- If you want sweeter bread, you can double the amount of sugar.
- Instead of the lemon zest, you can use orange zest or aniseed.
- Serve for breakfast or as a snack!
FAQs about Pane di Pasqua
Eggs are colored to symbolize life, Resurrection and the joy of Easter.
Easter bread is also called Pane di Pasqua or Corona Pasquale.
Yes, you can. The bread tastes as delicious without the glaze as with it.
This is the Italian Easter Bread recipe called pane di Pasqua. But the Greeks also make a similar recipe called Tsoureki in which the eggs are dyed red to represent Jesus’ blood.
Easter bread will last for 3 days at room temperature or longer in the fridge.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon golden raisins
- 4 uncooked but dyed eggs
For the optional glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons milk
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter into a microwave-safe container with the milk. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. If the milk has not reached 110 degrees, return to the microwave for an additional 10 seconds.
- Pour the milk into the mixing bowl and beat until combined.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is smooth.
- Begin adding flour in small scoops until a soft dough is formed.
- Switch the mixing hook for a dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn once. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place free of drafts, for approximately 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough to deflate the air.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat flat.
- Sprinkle with raisins and knead to combine.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into a long rope by running your hands over the dough pushing the dough from the center to the ends as you move your hands forward and backwards over the dough.
- If the dough continues to be too elastic to retain its length, allow the dough to relax while you work on a different piece. Dough strands should be approximately 20 inches long.
- Line the strands parallel to one another.
- Squeeze one side of the ends together.
- To braid, start with the third strand from the left. Gently pass the strand over the 2nd strand and under the 1st strand, like a basic basket weave. Then, move to the strand all the way to the right and begin weaving over and under each strand until it reaches the left. Repeat with additional strands (about twice) until the bread is braided.
- Shape into a wreath and squeeze the ends together, tucking the squeezed ends under the bread.
- Tuck the uncooked, dyed eggs between the braids.
- Carefully transfer the bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet or large baking stone. Loosely cover the bread with a towel.
- Place in a warm spot, free of drafts, and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the remaining butter. Brush the melted butter over the bread, evenly coating the bread.
- Place the bread in the oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing and serving.
- If using the optional glaze, allow the bread to cool first. Mix all ingredients together and spoon over the bread.
- Add sprinkles if desired.