Easter celebration breads are made throughout Italy... Pane di Pasqua. To celebrate Easter in Sicily, they make "baby-doll" breads for girls, and breads shaped like ducks, lambs and horses for boys. In most areas of Italy, there are Easter breads and mostly are sweet and contain whole, brightly dyed eggs which are braided into the bread, with the eggs cooking during the baking.
In Lombardy there is the Colomba Pasquale (literally "Easter dove"), which has become popular throughout Italy. In Sardinia, the celebration breads get even more intricate, with scissor work on the dough adding amazing details in Easter egg baskets. The eggs can be brightly colored or natural. In the Greek tradition, the same sort of bread is made with eggs dyed red by using onion skins. The eggs represent birth, or rather, at Easter the re-birth.
I've made my Easter Egg Braided Bread several times over the years for my family... I thought I'd share the recipe:
This recipe can make one round bread or two smaller straight braided breads, or 6 individual breads.
Dying the eggs:
First of all, dye 4-6 eggs, but do them while they are raw. The baking will cook them to a hard boiled state. If you want to make real looking like partridge eggs, dye them a pale blue and then use a tooth brush with brown dye to put blotches and spots all over each egg.
1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast.
1/3 cup milk (at 115 F)
1 tablespoon sugar
Making the dough:
2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour (depends on humidity... don't put in all the flour if it doesn't need it, but if it's a rainy day or you're using jumbo eggs, you might need 4 cups).
1/2 cup warm milk (115 F)
1/4 cup orange juice (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter (softened & cut into small pieces)
3 eggs well beaten (You can substitute Egg Beaters if you like).
1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond flavoring for a more Italian flavor)
For egg wash:
2 eggs beaten (egg wash for brushing)
Forming the Bread:
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Article and recipe copyright 2016 - Jerry Finzi/Grand Voyage Italy - All rights reserved