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Braided Easter Bread Wreath
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Italian Easter Bread

Italian Easter Bread -Soft and sweet bread tucked with colorful hardboiled eggs and baked to golden perfection. This popular Easter homemade bread tastes so rich, buttery, and so divine you won't resist. And it comes in two versions! Definitely a must-have in every Easter get-together. 
Course Bread
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baking, bread, easter bread
Prep Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 - 7 Individual Easter Bread or 1 Whole Easter Bread
Calories 406kcal
Author Imma

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (177 ml) water at room temperature
  • 1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) active yeast
  • 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons (6 g) salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 ¼ - 3 ½ cups (406 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Dyed Eggs

  • 4 cups water
  • 5-7 large boiled eggs
  • 5-7 teaspoons white vinegar
  • food coloring

Egg Wash (Brushing the Top)

  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream

Optional Topping

  • sprinkles or sliced almond

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, adjust to desired thickness

Instructions

  • Combine lukewarm water and yeast. Let it sit until it dissolves for about 5 minutes. You may do so in a standing mixer if using one.
  • Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe medium bowl, add butter chunks, sugar, salt, and microwave for about a minute.
  • Stir until everything is melted - the mixture should be warm, not hot. Let it cool slightly if the mixture is hot. Dump everything into the yeast mixture.
  • Whisk the egg into the mixture. If the mixture is too hot let it cool to a warm mixture to prevent eggs from curdling. Mix until ingredients are fully combined.
  • Add about 3 cups of flour and continue mixing by hand or using a paddle dough. Add in enough additional flour (if needed) to make a soft dough.
  • Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Form a ball.
  • Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with a damped cloth. Leave it for 2 hours or until doubled in size. You can make the dyed eggs while the bread is rising.

How to Dye Easter Eggs

  • Add 4 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a bowl.
  • Pour ½ cup of water in 4 or more bowls, depending on individual color preference.
  • In each bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon vinegar and 10 to 20 drops of food color - it depends on the desired colors. Do the same for all the bowls.
  • Carefully place eggs in a bowl using a spoon and let it sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes have elapsed, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie rack to dry up. Use as needed.
  • Use a slotted spoon, wire egg holder, or tongs to add and remove eggs from the dye. Allow eggs to dry.
  • Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and follow instructions for either individual or Easter bread.

Easter Bread

  • Stretch or roll out the dough into an even thickness of about approximately 16-inch-long rope with tapered ends.
  • Braid the strands loosely; so you can easily tuck the eggs in the pocket. Take the left strand and cross it over the middle strand. 
Take the right strand and cross it over the middle strand, until bread is completed. Tightly pinch to seal the end.
  • Shape the dough into a ring and gently seal the ends of the ring together. Tuck the eggs. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed about 20 –30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Gently brush the dough with the beaten egg wash, being careful around dyed eggs and not deflate the dough. Sprinkle with sprinkles, if desired.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. If it browns quickly, cover it loosely with foil paper.
  • Remove, let it cool before applying it with icing.

Individual Easter Bread

  • For single bread, divide each dough into 6-7 pieces equal pieces. Take each piece and divide in half. Then stretch each strand into 14-15 inch inches long. Pinch the two strands together and twist together.
  • Bring together to form a circle. Make sure there is just pocket space in the middle to tuck the eggs. Pinch the ends. Repeat with the remaining dough, until all the pieces have been used up.
  • Line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper and then transfer the dough onto the pan. Tuck with Easter eggs.
  • Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let them rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed about 20–30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C)
  • Gently brush the dough with the beaten egg wash, being careful around dyed eggs and not to deflate the dough. Sprinkle with sprinkles, if desired.
  • In a preheated oven, bake the dough for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. If it browns quickly, cover it loosely with foil paper.
  • Remove, let it cool before applying it with icing.

Bread Icing

  • Whisk the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and milk, adding a few drops more of milk, as needed to make the glaze smooth and pourable.
  • Drizzle as much as you like over the bread with a fork or spoon. Serve with a cup of tea.

Notes

  1. Natural Dyes Using Spices. In a saucepan, boil 2 cups of water and add: ½ tbsp turmeric powder + ½ tbsp vinegar, for yellow; 4 tbsp Paprika + 4tsp vinegar for red-orange AND peeled skin from 6pcs red onion + 3 tsp vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes to achieve jade green color. Rest and let it cool to room temperature before transferring to a glass container.
  2. No Boiling/Cooking Natural Dye. Simply mix 1 cup strong coffee + 1 tbsp vinegar, for brown AND nd 1 cup grape juice (no need to boil) + 1 tbsp vinegar, for lavender.
  3. You may boil the eggs first before tucking them into the bread OR bake the bread with raw eggs if you prefer soft-boiled eggs. The baking time is long enough to cook the eggs.
  4. Go creative when it comes to your toppings. You can decorate your bread with candy sprinkles, sliced nuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or my Homemade Everything Bagel Seasoning HERE. You can also use sugar glaze for that glossy effect or pour chocolate ganache on top.
  5. You can also prepare the dough a day before. After you braid the bread, place it in a baking pan covered with greased plastic wrap or cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only. Please keep in mind that it is a rough estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary greatly based on the products used.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Individual Easter Bread | Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 548mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 504IU | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 3mg