Italian Easter Bread is almost always flavored with anise and contains candied fruit and is sprinkled with blanched almonds. Greek Easter bread is similar with anise flavor and has orange rind mixed in. Both incorporate eggs in the shells in the bread. Italian Easter Bread can contain uncolored eggs or you can color them first, but they must be raw. Greek Easter Bread usually has red eggs in the middle or 4 eggs are nestled into a braid. Greek bread is called either Lambropsomo or Tsoureki. Whichever you wish to try, you will find it delicious.
Both breads contain scalded milk and you can find the instructions to scald milk in a General Easter Bread article.
Italian Easter Bread
- 3 cups flour, divided
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast (not rapid-rise)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup scalded milk
- 2 tablespoon butter, softened
- 7 eggs
- ½ cup mixed candied fruit, chopped (can use raisins or currants)
- ¼ cup blanched almonds (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon anise seed
- olive oil
- In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
- Pour in scalded milk cooled to lukewarm (about 120 to 130 degrees F) and softened butter.
- Beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer.
- Stir in 2 of the eggs and another ½ cup flour.
- Beat 2 minutes on high. Stir in by hand the fruit, nuts and anise seed.
- The dough will probably be too hard to mix with the mixer unless you have a dough hook. If you don’t have the dough hook use your hands to mix in the rest.
- Add enough flour to form a soft and elastic dough.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and need about 5 to 7 minutes or use the hook for about 5 minutes then knead for 1 minute.
- Place dough into a large bowl that has been greased with olive oil.
- Turn dough once so all sides are greased. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double (about 1 hour)
- Color remaining 5 eggs with food coloring if desired and let dry.
- Rub a coat of olive oil on the eggs after they dry.
- Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half into a 24 inch rope.
- Loosely twist ropes together and place on a greased cookie sheet forming into a circle.
- Pinch ends of ropes together.
- Split ropes and tuck eggs into the openings.
- Cover and let rise until double (30 minutes).
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until gold brown.
- Remove from oven and brush top of bread with melted butter.
Greek Easter Bread
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 cup scalded milk
- ½ cup melted butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon aniseed
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
- 6 cups flour
- 2 to 5 hard boiled eggs died red
- Soft Butter
- Sesame seeds
- In a large mixing bowl mix yeast with warm water (about 120 degrees).
- Stir in milk, butter and salt.
- Add aniseed, beaten eggs, sugar, and orange peel.
- Add flour until the mixer will take no more (see hook directions in Italian Easter Bread).
- Add more flour by hand.
- You do not have to use all the flour but the dough should be very stiff. When it becomes stiff remove from bowl and place on floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Grease a bowl well and place dough in the bowl turning so all surfaces are greased.
- Cover and let rise 2 hours until doubled. Punch down dough and knead for about 1 minute.
- Divide dough in half.
- Tear off about 1/5th of the dough.
- Form a round with the other part of dough and place on greased cookie sheet.
- Divide reserved piece in half and roll into 2 long strips place a red egg in the middle of the loaf and form a cross over the eggs tucking the ends under the loaf.
- Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and brush with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Ukranian and Russian Easter Bread
Slovak Easter Bread