Easter

Easter Bread

March 24, 2021
1 Rating
Photo by James Ransom. Prop styling by Megan Hedgpeth. Food styling by Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

Easter bread is an enriched, yeasted dough with origins in Italy and Greece—although this festive loaf can be found all over Eastern Europe (and some parts of the U.S.) in the weeks leading up to Easter. Unlike a simple yeasted dough, like country bread, enriched dough is so named for the addition of dairy, eggs, and sugar, resulting in a slightly sweet, airy loaf. Think of it like a cross between challah, brioche, and Japanese milk bread. The addition of sugar slows down the rising process, so plan to give yourself ample time to let the dough rise.

The thing that really sets Easter bread apart from the rest are the colorful dyed eggs tucked between the strands of dough. This recipe calls for using dyed, hard-boiled eggs, but if you want to use regular ole raw eggs, you can. The real kicker is that while the eggs are cooked, we don’t recommend eating them. By the time the bread comes out of the oven the eggs will be far past hard-boiled and resemble something closer to a baseball in terms of texture—keep them purely for decorative purposes.

But in my opinion, dyeing the eggs is half the fun here. No shade to the drugstore egg-dyeing kits of my youth, but these days I prefer the natural dye route (yes, you can use certain foods as natural dye!). Not only are the colors a bit more sophisticated than their neon counterparts (think pale pinks, golden yellows, and deep blues), it’s also a great way to make use of what you already have in your kitchen. —Alexis deBoschnek

  • Prep time 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • serves 20
Ingredients
  • Easter bread
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, about 113 grams) unsalted butter, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (one 1/4-ounce packet, about 7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups (612 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for eggs
  • 5 large hard-boiled eggs (dyed, if you'd like; see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Naturally dyed Easter eggs
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • Blue eggs: 1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Pink eggs: 2 red beets, grated
  • Yellow eggs: 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Easter bread
  2. Add the milk and butter to a small pot over low heat and stir constantly, until the butter has melted and the milk reaches 120˚F to 130˚F on a thermometer. Transfer the milk mixture to a large heatproof measuring cup or medium bowl and add 1 teaspoon sugar and the yeast over top. Let the mixture rest until the yeast begins to bubble, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add 2 eggs to the milk mixture and whisk until combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and salt. Mix on medium low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the milk mixture and continue to mix until fully incorporated into the dough, about 1 minute. The dough will be sticky. Continue mixing until the dough comes together and feels smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
  4. Grease a large bowl with the 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and quickly shape into a ball. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough in the bowl, then transfer to a clean work surface. Divide the dough into three equal parts and roll each piece into a 24-inch rope.
  6. Place the ropes on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Without pinching the ends together, braid the rope, then bring each end together to create a ring shape, pinching the ends together to create a circular braid.
  7. Rub each of the prepared hard-boiled eggs with oil, then gently tuck them into the ropes that make up the braid, making sure they are equally spaced throughout the round.
  8. Cover the bread with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  9. Heat the oven to 375˚F.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and water. Brush the dough with the egg wash, making sure to avoid the hard-boiled eggs.
  11. Bake until the bread is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
  1. Naturally dyed Easter eggs
  2. Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat and set a timer for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. When the timer goes off, transfer the eggs to the ice bath to cool to room temperature.
  3. Add the water, vinegar, and your coloring of choice to a small pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool completely. Add the hard-boiled eggs to the dye and let them soak until your desired color is reached, at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alexis deBoschnek
    Alexis deBoschnek
  • kristenindc
    kristenindc
  • KMicken
    KMicken

3 Reviews

kristenindc March 29, 2021
With this recipe could you divide the dough and make two smaller loaves rather than one large?
 
KMicken April 4, 2021
Yes! We make a very similar recipe (same amount of flour) and traditionally make two smaller loaves/wreaths. Still plenty substantial in size.
 
Author Comment
Alexis D. April 4, 2021
I'm so sorry for the delay! Yes, you absolutely can.