Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anna Sultana's Pane di Pasqua all 'Uovo / Italian Easter Sweet Bread

The First Day of Spring!!

I have to admit Spring in Manitoba is not the same as Spring in Queens, New York.
There's something about shovelling snow and slipping on ice that just doesn't make it feel springlike.
Oh, well... the calendar says it's Spring, so, it's Spring.

While I miss the New York Spring weather, there are some things I don't miss.
My family's Easter celebrations were sometimes stressful.
My family is Maltese.
Some of my relatives are not.
And everybody has traditions.

After The Great Figolli Fight, Ma always tried to make something for everybody whenever she invited the relatives over for a holiday celebration.
So she'd bake an Italian style Easter bread, along with the Maltese Figolli.
I don't know which Aunt gave her the recipe.
Maybe it was Aunt Betty.
Ma always added her own touches, so it doesn't matter.
This is Ma's recipe.

This is a little different from Carmela Soprano's Easter Sweet Bread.
You can check both recipes and see which you'd like to make.

                        Italian Easter Sweet Bread

Lightly grease a baking sheet                 
Bake 40 minutes

Color in advance and refrigerate
5 eggs

Into a measuring cup pour
1/2 Cup warm water (@ 110º F)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Let stand about 10 minutes, then stir.

In a bowl, combine
1/2 Cup warm water
1 1/2 Cups flour
the yeast/water mixture
Beat until smooth.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 2 hours.

Combine in a small bowl
3/4 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In a large mixer bowl, cream
3/4 Cup shortening

1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
Add gradually the sugar / salt mixture.

Add, one at a time
2 Large eggs
Beat thoroughly.

the yeast/water mixture (after it has sat for 2 hours)

Add gradually
1 1/2 Cups flour
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
Knead and add about
1/2 Cup flour
Knead until it is very smooth (about 10 minutes).
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.
Cover and let rise in a warm place about 2 hours.

Punch down the dough and cut it into 2 even pieces.
Roll out one piece, between your hands, into a rope about 26 inches long.
Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Lay the ropes side by side and braid them together.
Place the braid on the baking sheet and bring the ends together to form a ring.
Pinch the ends together to seal and tuck the ends under so it looks nice.

Place the colored eggs in the wreath, evenly spaced.

Cover with a towel and let rise about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375º

Beat together
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water or milk
Brush the bread dough with the beaten egg mixture
Scatter on top
Multicolored round candy sprinkles

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from pans and place on a cutting board.
Slice and serve, just like regular bread.

About the eggs... You never know, someone may want to eat them.
So, it might be safer to store the bread in the fridge.

Or remove the eggs after the dinner and just refrigerate them.
After a few slices have been removed, it just looks like bread.

Not as pretty, but it still tastes good.


  1. This looks so festive! Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  2. Hi, Carole,

    Well, what's an Easter table without a loaf of Italian Easter Sweet Bread.

    Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!


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