Friday, March 29, 2013

Pani di Pasqua

Pani di Pasqua
 (Italian Easter Bread)
makes 6 individual loaves*

This is a favourite of my childhood, every Easter my family would get together at my grandfather's and the aunts and uncles would bring these to the delight of the children.  Happy Easter!


1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 ¼  cups milk
 pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon anise extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
½ cup mixed candied fruit, chopped (optional)  
3 ½ cups flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
multi-coloured sugar sprinkles or multi-coloured sugar pearls  


prepare the Easter eggs:

Cook 6 eggs in your normal manner and die them bright colours of your choice.

prepare the bread dough:

In a small saucepan, warm the milk, anise and butter together, just till butter melts. In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs, orange zest and sugar.  Add the warm (not hot - it will kill the yeast) milk and butter and the chopped candied fruit if used. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

form the loaves:

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.  Divide the loaves between two baking sheets lined with parchment paper,   cover with tea clothes and allow to rise until they double, about another hour.   When the loaves have doubled, brush each loaf with some of the beaten egg wash.  Sprinkle with the coloured sprinkles and place one of the coloured Easter eggs in the middle.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

bake the loaves:

Bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven, place on the rack and allow to cool.


Serve to the delight of your family and friends just use common sense about the hard boiled eggs, if they sit out for too long they may not be safe to eat.

Note: * this recipe will also make 1 large, braided loaf and make 7 coloured Easter eggs, one for the middle and 6 around the ring, the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled.  They cook when the bread bakes.  Dye the eggs raw without hard boiling them.

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