To celebrate Easter this year, I decided to make some traditional Italian Easter Bread (baby fingers not included). I wanted to deliver sweet treats to our neighbors and also invite them to Sojourn for our Easter service, but I also wanted to make a recipe with some significance. Growing up, we would eat Pane di Pasqua every year at Easter–not usually homemade (my mom wasn’t much of a baker), but I found the store-bought version to be just as tasty. Thank you, Publix. I will forever miss you.
I found a recipe online that I liked, but I wasn’t quite sure if I could use it, since I don’t have a stand-mixer with a dough hook attachment. So I called up my grandfather to double check. His response: “Ash, did your great-grandmother have a fancy mixer to make bread dough in the countryside of Italy?” Touche, Pepa, touche. Levi and I would go old-school and mix by hand.
I tweaked the recipe just a bit, since traditional Pane di Pasqua usually includes a citrus flavor, as well as some anise. I didn’t have any anise on hand, so I used a splash of vanilla extract instead. I also chose to add some orange zest to my dough, to follow tradition.
Here is what you will need to make 6 individual loaves:
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of one medium orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 cups flour (approximate)
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
- 6 dyed Easter eggs
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
I also have to give some mad props to my great-grandmother, Angelina. Mixing dough by hand is not easy work–it requires some muscle. I couldn’t imagine having to do so multiple times per week for a family of 6.
|The dough before resting. After rising, it nearly filled the bowl.|
|(It might also be helpful to recruit a 16 month old to make a floury mess and taste test the raw dough.)|
|I doubled the recipe to make 12 loaves–enough to give to neighbors and friends. Worked great!|
Happy Easter, friends! May we never forget the living Christ who gives us reason to celebrate.