This Italian specialty is known by several different names across different regions of Italy - brioche di pasqua, scarcella di pasqua and pupa con l'uovo are just a few - but despite the varying nomenclature, these delicious, doughy snacks are widely enjoyed as part of the Pasquale (Easter) festivities. Distinct in their appearance, these Italian Easter breads are rings of braided dough, covered with a scattering of colourful sprinkles and cooked with a vibrantly-dyed egg at their centre. The enriched dough that forms the brioche is the perfect indulgence and these sweet treats are a popular option for colazione (breakfast) on Easter Sunday, kickstarting a day of wonderful feasting.
Make Our Traditional Italian Easter Bread
Prep Time: 2 hours (not including dough resting time)
Calories per serving: 326 kcal
For the dough:
- 250g plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 40g granulated sugar
- 60ml milk
- 1 sachet (7g) active dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 100g softened butter
- 1 egg (to egg-wash)
For the topping:
- 3 eggs, (uncooked or hard-boiled) dyed a bright colour if desired (be sure to use edible dye)
- 4tbsp coloured sprinkles
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, lemon zest and sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and the yeast, mixing together with a fork until all the flour is incorporated. Add the softened butter and combine thoroughly.
- Lightly beat the eggs and then add them to the bowl too, combining with the mixture to form a dough.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it begins to stiffen.
- Place the ball of dough into a bowl and cover with a tea towel, leaving it to rise for around two hours.
- Divide the dough into 6 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands to create a rope-like shape, about 1 inch wide and 14 inches long.
- Join two of your ropes of dough together, pinching them at one end and braid them, laying one strand over the other in turn. Fold the braid into a circle and secure the ends together.
- Lay your braided ring on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and repeat with the rest of the dough. Make sure the braids are spaced apart on the tray so that they have room to rise.
- Cover the trays with tea towels and leave the shaped dough to rise for a further 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk one egg and use a pastry brush to lightly coat each of the dough braids.
- Place one of your colourfully dyed eggs into the middle of each braided ring. Scatter your sprinkles onto each ring, pressing them lightly into the dough.
- Bake your Easter bread rings for 15-20 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow them to cool a little before serving. Buon appetito!
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