Traditional Italian Easter Bread Recipe

Easter bread
Till Westermayer/Flickr
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 Small Loaves (40 servings)
Ratings (6)

This is my Italian-American family's traditional Easter bread recipe, but most "old world" cultures have their own similar versions. This rich and aromatic bread served with a simple icing makes for a festive and delicious Easter treat.

What You'll Need

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (100 degrees Farenheight)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon aniseeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed)

How to Make It

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a small pinch of sugar. Let sit 10 minutes. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour. Stir in the flour, one cup at a time to form a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface, to form a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Lightly oil the surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Place in the oven with the light on. The dough needs to rise until doubled in size, which will take between 6-12 hours. This is a slow rising dough and may be left overnight.
  1. When doubled punch dough down, and turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four pieces. Shape into four small oval loaves. If desired, each piece can be cut into three strips and braided to give it a traditional Easter bread appearance.
  2. Place loaves on a silicon mat or parchment lined baking sheets. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 hours. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on wire racks.
  3. Once cooled completely the loaves can be served as is, or frosted with a simple lemon icing.