“Pane di Pasqua” Easter Bread
One of our family’s Easter traditions is to bake a special sweet bread to enjoy as part of a delightful brunch consisting of egg and meat dishes and special pies. This is my grandmother’s recipe and she shaped the dough into round loaves with a colored egg stuck in the middle but she also created dolls and baskets from the dough and we loved to munch on our individual “dough doll” with raisin eyes and mouth! If preferred the dough can be loosely braided which is also a lovely presentation. NOTE: Recipe can be cut in half, with nine children to feed my grandmother made large quantities of everything!
Optional: Icing can be drizzled on top after loaves cool. Candied lemon or orange peel, or citron can be finely minced (3/4 cup) and added to dough.
1 pound granulated sugar
3 packages dry yeast
3 lemons (zest)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
5 pounds unbleached white flour
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons liquid lecithin (optional). The addition of lecithin helps keep the bread moist longer, it was not in the original recipe but I like to add it when I’m baking this bread.
Combine lukewarm milk, butter, sugar, eggs, cinnamon salt in a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water, add to flour mixture and combine well. Turn onto a flat surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Lightly butter or oil bowl and return dough, to bowl, let rise in warm place until double in bulk (about 2 hours), punch down and let rise again. Divide dough into 6 pieces and shape as desired. Let rise again (45 mins). Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 23-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped. Remove to racks and cool completely.