Let's Make Sicilian Easter Bread

A Spring Family Tradition!

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Lisa Thompson
Food Editor, recipe developer, food stylist. New Yorker in Los Angeles
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Kayla Howey of The Original Dish talks classic entertaining dishes for the holiday season.
 

Let's Make Sicilian Easter Bread

by Lisa Thompson, Food Editor


 
 

Often when professional cooks try to recreate nostalgic family recipes, they wind up making changes to try to inject their “cheffiness” into them. Sunday sauce, but add fish sauce for a deeper umami flavor. Mom’s chicken soup, but clarify the broth into consommé and add meticulously drizzled chive oil. That is not what you will find with this recipe. 

I grew up in a house where we took our Sicilian food traditions VERY seriously. This meant Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, Rice Balls (or arancini) on New Years Eve, and Easter Bread, churned out in many batches on Good Friday and forbidden to eat until the following day at noon. My dad would call us from work on Holy Saturday just to be sure we hadn’t snuck a taste before we were supposed to.
 
Easter Bread is known by many names throughout Italy, but the catch-all term is pane di Pasqua. The only changes I made from my family’s version were baking it on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead of individual aluminum pans so it would retain its meticulous braid, and I kept my dyed eggs raw instead of using previously hard-boiled eggs. We never ate the twice-cooked eggs in my house (and who would want to?), but in the spirit of reducing food waste, I keep the eggs in the refrigerator until I am about to pop the bread in the oven to reduce their cooking time and keep them completely edible. Need some more visuals? Watch me make it here.

 

SUGGESTED TIMELINE

FRIDAY
Dye eggs to your preferred colors. The longer you let the eggs sit in the dye, the more saturated the color will be.


SATURDAY
Bake Easter Bread. It'll be ready to eat once it's cooled (no need to wait until noon!) Alternatively, wrap in aluminum foil and save for tomorrow.

SUNDAY
Happy Easter! Enjoy your bread and don't forget to share on social media with #feedfeed




INGREDIENTS

1 (¼ ounce) package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
⅔ cup + 1 tablespoon milk, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
3 ¾-4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 dyed raw eggs
Multicolored sprinkles, for decorating (optional, but strongly suggested)
Softened butter, for serving


To make the chocolate-walnut variation, add 6 ounces (1 heaping cup) chopped dark chocolate and ½ cup chopped walnuts to the dough in step 3.
 
 

METHOD

Bloom yeast with warm water and a pinch of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ⅔ cup milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is just melted, then remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add warm milk mixture to the bloomed yeast and stir to combine. 

Add 2 cups flour, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl and mix on low using the dough hook attachment until no patches of flour remain. Add 2 eggs and vanilla and stir until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add remaining 1 ½ cups flour and stir until a smooth dough forms (dough will be slightly sticky). If the mixture feels too wet, add in more flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to an additional ¼ cup. (If making the chocolate walnut-variation, stir in the chocolate and chopped walnuts at this time).

Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Note: if it is below 70F degrees in your kitchen, try proofing the dough inside the oven with the light turned on to create a warmer environment. 

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make the egg wash by whisking 1 egg with remaining 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl until well combined. 

Once dough is doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Carefully stretch and fold all four sides in towards the center, then roll into a tight ball. Cut dough into 3 equal pieces, then gently stretch and roll each piece into a 24” strand (Note: if the dough feels tight and springs back after stretching, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then proceed). Braid the strands together, then form a circle by bringing the ends together and tuck the corresponding ends into each other to create a seamless braid. Carefully transfer braided dough to prepared baking sheet, then cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes, until puffy. Once dough is proofed, it should spring back slowly when poked with a lightly floured finger.

Brush dough with an even layer of egg wash. Gently tuck dyed eggs into the braid (this is a good way to hide any seams!) Top with sprinkles, if using. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until bread is a golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving with softened butter. Store bread wrapped tightly in aluminum foil for up to 3 days. Tip: You can use leftover Easter Bread to make some amazing french toast!


 
 

Easter Sweets &Treats

FROM OUR SHOP
 
 
Estelle
Yellow Cake Stand

This colorful cake stand will add a slice of sunshine to any table setting. Mix and match the pastel and jewel-toned glassware to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Each piece of Estelle Colored Glass is an heirloom in the making.


CLICK HERE TO SHOP

 

The 1 kg block, an iconic product used by pastry and chocolate artisans.


CLICK HERE TO SHOP

 
Girl Meets Dirt
Rhubarb Lavendar Spoon Preserves

The perfect balance of tart & sweet with just a touch of floral, this deep pink preserve is gorgeous with soft, creamy cow’s milk cheeses, a buttered baguette, or dolloped over panna cotta or ice cream. It's also been known to play nice stirred into a bit of bubbly for a special kind of 'toast'. 


CLICK HERE TO SHOP

 
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