Italian Easter Bread is a super delicious, soft, lightly sweet bread, a.k.a. Pane di Pasqua, topped with anise flavored icing. It’s a traditional Italian-American bread served at Easter.
Pane di Pasqua
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without Italian Easter Bread. It’s a tradition we hold dear like our beloved Italian Easter Pie.
I love seeing the excitement in my family’s faces when they see my Italian Easter Bread cooling on the stove.
I wish my husband looked at me like he looks at that fresh Easter bread! LOL!
One time, I was making Italian Anise Cookies when my boys got a sniff of the anise. They asked me if I was making Easter bread. They love it so much.
This Easter Bread is easy-to-make and doesn’t take a long time to rise- only one hour.
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What is pane di Pasqua?
Pane di Pasqua literally means “bread of Easter” or Easter bread in Italian. It’s a holiday staple in Italy. It’s become very popular in America and adopted the addition of dyed Easter eggs.
What is the meaning of Italian Easter bread?
Bread has a symbolic meaning for Easter. Jesus broke bread and shared it with the apostles at the Last Supper and said “Do this in remembrance of me.” It’s a Christian tradition wonderful way to celebrate Easter.
How to Make Italian Easter Bread
*The full, printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.
- Rapid Rise yeast
- anise extract
- softened butter
- powdered sugar
- anise extract
Summary of Instructions
*The full, printable instructions are at the bottom of this post.
- First, stir together some of the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
- Next, heat the milk and anise extract until it begins to bubble around the edges.
- Then, pour the milk into the flour mixture and mix until combined
- Next, add the softened butter, two eggs and remaining flour. Mix until well combined.
- Then, knead the dough for 8 minutes using the dough hook with a stand mixer or by hand on a floured surface.
- Next, let the dough sit for about 10 minutes covered with a dish towel.
- Then, oil spray a baking sheet. Split the dough into two equal balls.
- Then, roll each ball out to 14-18″ long pieces.
- Overlap the pieces to make a twist. Pinch and tuck the ends under on each side and place on the baking sheet.
- Next, cover with a dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour. The dough should about double in size.
- Then, brush with egg so the bread is shiny and pretty.
- Next, bake in oven at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
- Then, in a small bowl, mix the powered sugar, milk and anise extract in a bowl and pour on somewhat cooled bread.
- Last, top with nonpareils.
You’ve probably seen Italian Easter bread that includes dyed Easter eggs. It’s fine to add one or two to this recipe. You would add it to the dough twist between the pieces to hold it in place, before placing it in the oven.
Look at what the bread looks like inside below.
Break off a piece and indulge!
For a thicker icing, add 1/2 cup more of powdered sugar to the icing.
Italian Easter bread is perfect for Easter brunch! It’s so delicious to eat with a cup of coffee as a snack in the morning or anytime of day. See more Easter recipes.
I took this recipe to Weekend Potluck.
Italian Easter Bread
- 3 cups flour, divided
- 1/4 oz Rapid Rise yeast one packet or 2 1/4 tsp
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp anise extract
- 3 eggs, divided
- 4 tbsp butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp anise extract
- 2 tbsp milk or more if needed
- 1 tbsp nonpareils
- First, in a large mixing bowl, add: one cup of the flour, yeast, salt and granulated sugar. Stir.
- Next, heat milk and 1 tsp of the anise extract until it just starts to bubble around the edges (110F.)
- Then, add heated milk and anise extract to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Next, add softened butter, two of the eggs, one at a time, (the third egg is to brush on the dough before baking,) followed by the remaining two cups of flour. Stir until well-combined and dough starts to pull together.
- Then, place on floured surface and knead for 7 or 8 minutes by hand or use a stand mixer using the dough hook. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Then, let the dough sit for about 10 minutes covered with a dish towel in a warm spot. The dough may not rise much if it's too cold.
- Next, split the dough into two equal balls.
- Then, roll out two long pieces about two inches thick and 14-18 inches long.
- Next, oil spray a baking sheet. Place dough pieces side-by-side and overlap them to make a twist on the baking sheet. Pinch the ends and tuck under on each side.
- Then, cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for one hour. If you're oven has the "bread proof" setting, you can put the dough in the oven and put it on the bread proof setting to rise. The dough should about double in size.
- Next, pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Then, whisk the remaining egg. Brush it on top of the risen dough.
- Next, bake the dough for 20-25 minutes. If you suspect the bread top my burn, you can gently and loosely place a piece of tin foil on it the last 10 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl add powdered sugar, two tbsp of milk, and one tsp of anise extract and stir until smooth.
- Next, when bread is done, let it cool 5 minutes before adding icing. Pour icing on top.
- Last, sprinkle with nonpareils.