Baking & Dessert

By Allana Mortell | April 6, 2012

Photo: Allana Mortell

When I think about Easter, I think about a particular home video my family has that was taken over Easter vacation when I was about five and my younger brother Matt was just over a year old. When the video begins, it shoots to a terrifying shot of my five-year old self, bowl cut, running around the house in an oversize Aladdin t-shirt, searching the premises for Easter eggs and my own personal Easter basket. “Getting hot, very warm, you’re so close, keep going,” my dad would yell, playing that “Hot & Cold” game all parents teased their kids with “lovingly.”

The egg hunt would continue, I would eventually find my Easter Basket and then, it would be time for lunch. This traditional Easter Bread recipe is one we served every year because it was the epitome of sweet  and doughy. With orange zest and almonds for the adults and lots of sprinkles and vanilla glaze for the kids, the bread is the definite crowd pleaser.

Serve it as an entree or as an appetizer or just for fun. Picking apart the bread dough is even more fun because of its braided, twisted shape. I’ll be preparing the bread this weekend at my apartment in the city and though my family is all back in Chicago, I know without a doubt, they too will be eating the bread, basking in a family tradition that goes back many years.

Vanilla Glaze Recipe



  1. Combine sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Let stand for five minutes to thicken, if desired.

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Italian Easter Bread Recipe

Servings: 2 large braided loafs or four medium braided loafs
Calories: 500 per serving
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 3 hours 30 mins


Italian Easter Bread
  • 8 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp (2 envelopes) active, dry yeast
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped sliced almonds
  • 2 oranges, zested & juiced
  • Rainbow sprinkles
Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1. In a large mixing bowl, place the flour inside and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest (make sure the sugar is completely incorporated with the zest) Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often until it warm to the touch, but not piping hot.

2. Once the milk is warm (should be about 110 and 115 degrees F - if you have an instant thermometer, you can read the temp. that way) stir in the sugar and orange mixture, stirring constantly. Add the yeast (2 envelopes) and let sit for 5 minutes.

3. Add the milk mixture to the flour and begin to form into a dough. Then, add the butter and continue to mix. Next, toss in the orange juice and almonds to the dough and mix to combine.

4. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and salt, beating with a fork to make sure the eggs are completely mixed together. Add to the bread dough and continue to mix.

5. If the dough at this point is not binding together, add a cup or two of more flour, enough to make the dough come together. The texture should be sticky enough to form the dough into a ball, where you will now knead the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes until the bread dough is soft and elastic, slightly sticky.

6. Put the dough inside a large mixing bowl that has been lightly brushed with oil, turning the dough around and around to make sure enough oil coats the outside of the bread. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise (double in size) for about an hour.

7. Once the dough has risen, turn it onto a clean surface and cut in two. Then, cut each half again into two to where you now have four pieces of dough. Working with two pieces, roll them each out into 20-inch long ropes and loosely twist together. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place one braided rope on the baking sheet, twisting the ends together to form a ring, pinching the ends together to "seal".

8. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough so you have two braided loaves. Brush each with melted butter, cover again with plastic wrap ad let rise until the loaves have doubled (45 minutes).

9. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 and bake one loaf at a time until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before eating.

10. Combine sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bow to make glaze l. Stir until smooth. Let stand for five minutes to thicken, if desired.

11. Spoon the glaze over the bread and top with lots of rainbow sprinkles.

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