These old fashioned braided Easter bread recipes are prized around the world at Easter time. A stellar loaf of homemade bread offers one of the finest ways to celebrate the holiday. Below you'll find two of the best recipes for Easter bread from countries famous for their sweet, traditional breads — Italy and Russia.
There are also illustrated step-by-step instructions showing you how to make braided bread with 3 strands that you'll be proud to serve to your friends and family. Braided breads are also popular for serving at Christmas time and for Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)
This ancient food that symbolizes the Bread of Life, is the
perfect complement to the Christian celebration, and a slice of freshly
made homemade egg bread served while still warm from the oven simply
cannot be beat. Just top it with your choices of sweet homemade
preserves, yogurt, cream cheese, or almond flakes, and you have a
simple, perfect dessert.
Easter has been a popular religious celebration in Italy for almost 2,000 years. Celebrate Easter and the coming of Spring by making a braided Italian pannetone. It's also the perfect Christmas treat!
5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seedless raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts, or almond chips
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1/2 cup chopped citron
2 packages active dry yeast
Method: Prepare the yeast by adding the powder to 1/4 cup of water warmed to about 110°F (43°C). Add a pinch of sugar and allow the yeast to stand until it bubbles, which will take about 5 minutes.
Beat three of the eggs, then add 1/2 cup flour, blending for about two minutes. Stir in the raisins, citron, pine nuts, and anise seeds.
Kneed the dough on a floured wooden board for several minutes, then let it rest, covered with a moist cloth, to rise for about an hour. Punch down the dough and then divide into three ropes of 9 to 12 inches in length. Braid and pinch at the ends.
Grease a baking sheet, transfer the braided bread dough onto it and allow to rise for another hour. Then brush on the remaining egg, and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 35 minutes. Watch while baking to ensure it's golden brown, but not singed on the ends.
Once complete, remove and allow loaf to cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle lightly with icing sugar if desired.
This Italian pannetone recipe makes 1 loaf of homemade braided bread.
The Russian people are well known for their tasty, beautifully braided breads, and this sweet celebration bread is no exception.
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
Pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons salt
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
Method: To prepare the dough, stir the yeast slowly into water that has been warmed to about 110°F (43°C). Add a pinch of sugar and allow yeast to stand until it bubbles, which will take about five minutes.
Pour the flour into a large bowl and make an indentation with a large spoon or soup ladle. Beat three of the eggs in another bowl and pour them gently into the flour indentation. Add the milk, then slowly pour on the yeast solution.
Slowly stir the concoction, forming a dough. Allow it to rest for a few minutes, then move it to a floured surface and knead until it's completely smooth.
Lightly coat a large bowl with a little bit of Canola oil (or Olive oil) and move the dough around in the bowl until coated. Cover with a moist tea towel and let the dough rise for about three hours. Press the dough down, then allow to rise again for another hour.
Once it's ready, divide the dough into two separate souffle dishes that have been smeared with butter on the inside. Divide off about 1/3 of each dish of dough and roll into long, thin ropes. Cut each rope into three equal pieces and braid the rope pieces onto the surface of the dough mound in the dishes to create a braided design.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175C). Lightly brush each loaf with egg and add a pinch of salt. Bake about one hour or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.
This Russian braided Easter bread recipe makes 2 loaves of homemade bread with decorative braided surfaces.
Bread braiding easy when you know its secret. The following video offers clear, step-by-step instructions for braiding three strands. In under three minutes, you will learn the secret to braiding bread that looks as though it was done by a master bread baker.
The simple bread braiding method will work for both braided Easter bread recipes given on this page. Would you like more bread braiding instructions? The step-by-step images that follow should help you.
After making all strands (ropes) the same size, line up the three strands and identify the middle strand. Grasp the right strand and fold it over the middle strand, where it now becomes the new middle strand.
Then fold the left strand over the new middle strand, making it the new middle. Continue by folding the right strand over the middle, then the left strand over the middle, and so on until you reach the end.
If you began braiding at the middle of the strands, flip the dough over now and continue braiding the other half of the loaf by identifying the middle strand and folding the outer strands over it as described earlier when braiding the first half.
The benefit to beginning at the middle is that it's sometimes easier to make each half of the braided loaf equal in size.
Pinch the three strands together at the ends to prevent them separating during baking.
Finally, after making sure the ends of the strands are pinched securely together, lightly pat the loaf along its sides and top to shape it into a perfectly braided loaf.
Choose one of the braided Easter bread recipes above and practice making braided holiday loaves today. They'll look so amazing your loved ones will wonder how you made them, yet only you will know the secret.
Fine braided bread is the perfect symbol for Easter time. With the help of these traditional braided bread recipes, you'll be able make international style breads that you'll be proud to serve.