Are you getting your Easter menu together? Make room for this beautiful Easter Bread with colored eggs recipe provided by Chef Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in New York City. The Scognamillo family has owned and operated this popular Italian restaurant since 1944.
This whimsical bread’s eggs are decorative only. They can be hardboiled or colored raw and then placed in the dough. The slightly sweet bread with sugar sprinkles is loved by kids and adults and makes a beautiful centerpiece for your Easter Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner (add a large ribbon and lace doilies for even sweeter Easter decor).
- SWEET DOUGH
- 1 c whole milk
- ½ c sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbl instant yeast (also called bread machine yeast)
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp anise seeds
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 5 c unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 6 Tbl (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature, plus additional softened butter for the bowl
- 6 colored eggs (see note below)
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp whole milk, for glaze
- 2 teaspoons nonpareils (colored sugar decorations) for garnish
- To make the sweet dough: combine the milk, sugar, eggs, yeast, lemon zest, anise seeds, and salt together in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer (see below for making this without a mixer). Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined. Gradually add 3 ½ cups of the flour to make a thick batter. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the butter, waiting for the first addition to be absorbed before adding more. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that cleans the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally pulling down the dough as it climbs up the
hook,until the dough is smooth, shiny, and slightly sticky (do not add too much flour), about 8 minutes.
- (If you don't have a mixer, you can make the dough by hand: whisk the milk, sugar, eggs, yeast, lemon zest, anise seeds, and salt together in a large bowl. Gradually stir in 3 ½ cups of the flour to make a thick batter. One tablespoon at a time, stir in the butter, waiting for the first addition to be absorbed before adding more. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that cannot be stirred. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth, supple, and slightly sticky (do not add too much flour), about 10 minutes.)
- Butter a large bowl. Gather the dough into a ball. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it, leaving the dough smooth and buttered side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 ¼ hours. (Or refrigerate the dough for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.)
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each piece of dough underneath your palms on the work surface into a 20-inch rope which tapers to the ends. Line the ropes up next to each other and starting from the center, braid the rope to the end and then repeat from the center to the other end. Pinch the rope ends together to shape it into a tapered loaf. Transfer the braid to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm and draft-free place until almost doubled in volume, which should take about 1 hour (or about 1 ½ hours for chilled dough). During the last 15 minutes of rising, distribute the colored eggs evenly over the top of the braid, nesting them in the seams.
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰F
- Brush the braid lightly with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the nonpareils. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.
- Note: Eggs can be hard boiled or raw. To color the eggs, you can use a commercial coloring set, or make your own coloring dip. For each color, combine 1 ½ cups boiling water and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar in a large glass. Tint the liquid as desired with food coloring gel (which has deeper colors than liquid coloring, although you can use liquid). Dip each egg in the coloring mixture, and let stand for at least 2 minutes, or until the desired color is reached. Remove the egg from the coloring mixture and let dry on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
This recipe can also be found in Patsy’s Italian Family Cookbook and is reprinted here with permission.
Do you have a favorite Easter Bread recipe?