Easter Sweets & Treats the Italian Way

Italians take Easter and all of the activities involved with the holiday very seriously! Starting with the celebration of lent, to decorating eggs and a big Easter day feast, no details are left behind when it comes to the first big holiday of the spring.

By now, the practice of lent has begun and those who practice the tradition commonly ‘fast’ or abstain from a certain activity, food or habit they so choose. In the weeks before Easter, it’s common to hard-boil eggs to preserve them since during lent, meat, dairy and eggs are typically not consumed. Once Easter rolls around, the decorated eggs are given as gifts and promptly consumed with Easter meals.

In Italy, over the past century, decorated hard-boiled eggs have given way to the ever-popular giant chocolate eggs! These elaborately decorated, larger-than-life eggs have become more and more prevalent over the past few decades. Walking down any street in Italy during the weeks of lent leading up to Easter, you can see these large chocolate eggs wrapped in transparent cellophane and ribbon propped up in the windows of every bottega on the block. Most eggs are decorated with sayings on them, and can even be personalized. These giant eggs are hollow and often contain small gifts inside like costume jewelry, candy, small stuffed animals and similar items.

If you don’t have access to giant chocolate eggs, you can still celebrate Easter the Italian way and make some traditional sweets at home! The infamous Easter egg bread is simple to make and will bring a tasty nostalgia to your dining room table while also serving and a beautiful centerpiece. This bread is often referred to as ‘the bread of life” and symbolizes the rebirth of Christ. Our recipe will have this bread ready to go in a couple of hours and serves up to 20!

Simple Italian Egg Bread

What you will need:
• 3 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup of sugar
• 3 tbp unsalted butter
• 7 eggs total (5 uncooked and dyed)
• 1 packet of active dry yeast
• 1 tsp salt
• 3/2 cup of milk
• ½ tsp of aniseed
• ½ cup chopped dried fruit (optional)
• ¼ chopped almonds
Glaze ingredients (glaze is optional but recommended):
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tbsp milk
• ¼ tsp vanilla extract
• Sprinkles or sesame seeds (optional)

Step 1: Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a large bowl while heating the milk and butter together in a saucepan (be careful not to burn it). Add in dry ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs and remaining flour to create smooth dough.

Step 2: Seep flour onto your preparation surface and knead your dough until it’s smooth, without clumps and elastic for no longer than 10 minutes (you don’t want to over-work the dough either). Place your ball of dough into a greased bowl (roll it around in the butter once over to get equal coverage) and let it rise for about 1 hour.

Step 3: Take dough from bowl (it should be about doubled in size now) and flatten it while adding chopped dried fruit and nuts (optional). Split loaf into 2 pieces and shape into ropes. Twist the pieces together creating a braid and pinching ends together to create an oval shape. Brush over braid with melted butter and tuck eggs into sections of the final braid. Cover the braid and let sit for about a half hour.

Step 4: Bake bread at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until desired golden brown doneness. Cool on rack and drizzle glaze (glaze is made with all glaze ingredients combined and mixed together) over the braid and add sprinkles if desired. (Glaze is made with all glaze ingredients combined and mixed together)
The best thing about this Easter bread is that it’s also great for breakfast the following day! You can use leftovers to make bread pudding or French toast; the options are endless! Surely, none of this delicious bread will go to waste.

To add another element of sweetness and indulgence to your Easter dinner, consider trying an Italian cocktail for everyone at the table. This will certainly make those guests who abstained from alcohol for lent very happy.
The most essential bottle to have on-hand for these kinds of holidays is our favorite trusted Prosecco! You can make everything from mimosas to vodka-based cocktails with this bubbly favorite.

Prosecco Pear Punch
2 cups of pear nectar or juice
1 cup of cranberry cocktail
3 cups of prosecco
Pear slices and fresh rosemary garnish
Place these together into a punchbowl and enjoy with appetizers!
Enjoy this Easter holiday with your friends and family sharing our favorite recipes!
Come on in and stock up for Easter at Doris where our bakery is bursting at the seams with fresh baked goods. We will have all of the lamb you may possibly need for Easter dinner and plenty of the other traditional Easter goodies. Don’t forget to call ahead if you’re planning to cater!

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