Italian Easter Bread {Pane di Pasqua}

Italian Easter Bread (also called Pane di Pasqua) is a tender, slightly sweet loaf with colorful Easter eggs pressed into the top for a stunning centerpiece loaf of bread.

Italian Easter Bread is a braid circle loaf decorated on top with dyed Easter eggs.

What is Pane di Pasqua?

Pane di Pasqua, also known as Italian Easter Bread, is a sweet, enriched bread that is braided or twisted and then turned into a circle, giving you an impressive crown shaped loaf. Dyed Easter eggs, which represent new life coming from the egg shell just as Jesus rose from the tomb, are then pressed into the loaf. The result is a beautiful, colorful loaf for your Easter feast.

Optional Flavors and Additions

  • Some traditional Italian recipes call for the addition of 1/2 tsp. of anise seed to the bread dough.
  • You can add brightly colored jimmie sprinkles to the top of the loaf before baking to make it extra bright and colorful.
  • If you would prefer an orange flavored loaf, you can substitute orange zest for the lemon.

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Slices of Pane di Pasqua, a braid circle loaf decorated on top with dyed Easter eggs.
Italian Easter Bread is a braid circle loaf decorated on top with dyed Easter eggs.

How to Make Italian Easter Bread

How to Braid and Decorate the Bread

Begin by dividing your loaf into three equal sections (a scale helps make them the same size). Next, roll each section of the dough into a 24″ long rope. Try to keep it as even as possible while rolling.

Lay the three sections of bread dough next to each other and press the ends together. Bring the right piece of dough over the center piece. Then bring the left piece over the center (which was originally the rope on the right). Continue this pattern, alternating the dough ropes on the left and right going over the center one, until you’ve reached the end of the dough.

Next, bring around the ends of the braid to meet, creating a circle with them. Tuck the ends in together to continue the braided look, pinching any ends to prevent them from splitting apart.

Carefully lift the braided bread crown onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Beat an egg until smooth then use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash over the entire loaf.

Gently press uncooked, dyed Easter eggs onto the top of the loaf.

Slices of Pane di Pasqua, a braid circle loaf decorated on top with dyed Easter eggs.

Tips for Pressing the Easter Eggs onto the Bread:

Place the eggs in the very center of the braid or slightly towards the center. This insures that they don’t roll off when the bread is rising and baking.

Odd numbers are generally the most visually pleasing, and I recommend about 5 eggs for this size of loaf.

While most colored Easter eggs are hard-boiled, uncooked eggshells dye just as well. If you press uncooked eggs into the top of the Italian Easter bread, they’ll be a perfect hard-boiled egg consistency after baking in the loaf for 25-30 minutes.

A tender, soft slice of Pane di Pasqua

Making Small Easter Breads

Divide the dough into 8 equal sections, then roll each into an 8″ rope. Twist two of the ropes together, then bring the ends together and pinch them to create a circle. There’s shouldn’t be much of a hole in the center. Repeat this with the other dough sections until you have 4 miniature Italian Easter bread loaves.

Brush each of them with egg wash and place a dyed Easter egg in the center of each loaf. Allow the miniature loaves to rise until doubled in size (this should take about 1-2 hours), then bake at 350° for about 20 minutes, or until the loaves are all golden brown.

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Italian Easter Bread is a braid circle loaf decorated on top with dyed Easter eggs.

Italian Easter Bread {Pane di Pasqua}


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart

Description

Italian Easter Bread (also called Pane di Pasqua) is a tender, slightly sweet loaf with colorful Easter eggs pressed into the top for a stunning centerpiece loaf of bread.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • Zest of lemon
  • 5 cups (700 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) whole milk
  • 1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp./7 g) yeast
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 Tbsp. (114 g) very soft butter
  • 5 raw eggs, dyed

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