This bread has a distinct, subtle flavor of anise seed and is slightly sweet. It’s not sweet like a dessert bread but more similar to Hawaiian bread. The egg is baked along with the bread in the oven and makes the mini loaf a great breakfast for Easter morning.
My mom always talked about “Pane di Pasqua” and how her mother used to make it every year for Easter. I decided to renew that tradition and make it too! This year was the second year I’ve made it and each time it was a hit.
Pane di Pasqua – Italian Easter Bread
Makes 4-6 breads (depending on how big you want each loaf to be)
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 package Active Dry Yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter – at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 4-6 raw eggs (at room temperature), for placing on the bread
- 1 more egg for the egg wash
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
- Colorful sprinkles
- Olive oil
- Mix together 1 cup of flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Heat the 2/3 cup of milk until luke warm – not boiling – about 120 degrees F.
- Add the warm milk and butter to the flour mixture (the butter must be room temperature and creamy!). Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Add in 2 eggs, another 1/2 cup of flour and the anise seed. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Using the dough hook on your mixer, stir in the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, a 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough. You may not need to use all of the flour.
- Knead the dough in your mixer for 5 minutes, then for about 2 minutes by hand until it is smooth and elastic. If you do not have a mixer, knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes.
- Coat a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Turn the dough once so that it is lightly coated in oil.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, set it in a warm, dry area and let it rise for about 90 minutes, until it doubles in size.
- If you haven’t already, now is a good time to dye your raw eggs. Make sure they are dry and then lightly spray them with olive oil. Set aside.
- Once dough has doubled, punch it down, and then divide into 4 or 6 pieces – 4 for large loafs, 6 for smaller loafs. Divide each of those pieces in 2 and roll each piece out into a rope. Twist the two ropes together, form it into a ring and pinch the ends together. Repeat for each loaf.
- Place an egg right in the middle of each dough wreath. Place each loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Cover with a dry towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix up your last remaining egg and use a brush to coat the top of each loaf with that egg. Top with your colorful sprinkles.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes – until golden brown.
- Let cool slightly and enjoy!