Easter bread is a tradition that I’ve grown up with. My grandmother’s family is from Italy (more specifically Rocca Pepparotza). Her father, Peter, married his first wife and they immigrated to America. Once in New York, they had three children. His first wife unfortunately passed away and Peter traveled back to Italy to marry her sister, Madeline, as tradition dictated. They were married in Italy.
She was pregnant for my Grandmother’s brother, Peter, on the way back to New York. Once here, they had three girls, and one was my amazing grandma.
Madeline, my great grandmother, used to make Easter bread and formed it into the shape of dolls for her girls. In the middle she placed a hard boiled egg for the belly. Once the girls were older the bread dolls became loaves and eventually my grandma took over the task of Easter bread making.
This is my sweet grandmother and her kitchen filled with love.
The recipes have been passed down for generations. Many of them are simple and have evolved through the years.
The bread is a very flavorful egg bread, made with yeast, white flour, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, milk, eggs, and orange.
This year we even used almond milk so I could enjoy it. The almond milk worked wonderfully!
This makes 5 normal sized loaves or 10 mini loaves.
Everything needs to be at room temperature before mixing, then it takes some elbow grease.
You will knead and knead until it finally comes together in a fragrant ball.
The dough needs to rise overnight and then rise again once in loaves for eight hours.
The bread is baked quite low; at 300* either the day before or the morning of Easter.
It’s amazing fresh, toasted, with cream cheese, or butter. This brings me back to so many childhood memories. I love Easter bread and cooking with my grandma is a tradition I’m so excited we have.
Traditional Italian Easter Bread
- 5 pound all purpose flour
- 1.5 packages instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups warm milk or almond milk
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 eggs
- zest and juice of one orange
Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a giant bowl and create a well.
Warm the milk on the stove and let all other ingredients come to room temperature.
Add the oil and milk, then work with your hands until it’s mostly combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, kneading each in. Add the orange zest and juice.
Knead for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is uniform and there aren’t any dry pockets. Use a little extra water if it’s to dry.
Cover dough with a thin layer of olive oil and a tea towel then let rise in a warm area for 8 hours or overnight. There’s no need to punch it down.
Form the bread into 4-5 normal loaf pans or 10 mini loaf pans. Let rise, covered with a blanket, for another 8 hours.
Bake at 300* for one hour, then let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.
Enjoy, and reminisce!
I would like to make it whole grain in the future, but this time it was just about using the ingredients my grandmother’s used for 60 years and listening to stories as we baked together in her kitchen.
I’m so fortunate to live near both of my grandmothers and have a close relationship with each of them. Expect some more old-word tutorials in the future: cavatelli, white balls (jennets), and more.
Do you have any special traditions with your family?