Grammy’s Italian Easter Bread

by Dorothy Reinhold on March 1, 2013

Print This Post Print This Post Grammy's Italian Easter Bread -- flour, eggs, butter and love! |

Am I allowed to say — and will you believe it if I tell you? — that my Grammy Zito made the best Easter bread on the planet?

Soft, warm, fragrant, eggy, wonderful Easter bread, kneaded by hand, lovingly, in her Italian kitchen. We sliced it thin, slathered it thickly with butter (back in the day when we all weren’t afraid of butter!), and ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It makes wonderful toast, sandwiches and snacks.

Grammy's Italian Easter Bread on Shockingly DeliciousAnd the recipe, observed and recorded by my mother, now has a permanent home in my recipe box. While I don’t often enough have time to make bread entirely by hand, I still crave the flavor of my grandmother’s bread; Easter Sunday just wouldn’t be the same without it.

So with a little tinkering with ingredient amounts, I can easily make it in my automatic bread machine. I use a modified strategy of letting the machine do the kneading and first rise, and then I take over for the second rise and baking in the oven. But you can certainly do the whole shebang in the machine if you like.

I hope you haul out your bread machine and try it, too. My usual top rating is 5 stars. To this, I give 10 stars!

Grammy's Italian Easter Bread on Shockingly DeliciousHappy Easter!

Recipe: Grammy’s Italian Easter Bread

Summary: Craving the flavor of old-time Italian Easter bread, made the easy way, using the automatic bread machine.


  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast (I used SAF-Instant Yeast, so no need to proof or dissolve)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter (I used Kerrygold)
  • 1/2 cup milk, scalded and then cooled (may need additional milk; see note below*)


  1. Easiest way: Add ingredients to bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer. Turn machine on (White Bread setting) and let it go! (Check dough consistency early in kneading cycle and add up to 1/4 cup more milk if needed to achieve correct consistency; see note below.) Skip to step #7.
  2. The Shockingly Delicious usual way: Add ingredients to bread machine in order recommended by manufacturer. Turn machine on to dough setting, and let the bread maker mix, knead and go through the first rise (something like 80 minutes total). (Check dough consistency early in kneading cycle and add up to 1/4 cup more milk if needed to achieve correct consistency. See note below.)
  3. When it beeps and is done with dough cycle, remove dough, shape in a round, place it on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet, and set in a warm place for the second rise.Grammy's Italian Easter Bread after second rise on Shockingly Delicious
  4. Allow to rise for 30-60 minutes, undisturbed, until it doubles in size.Grammy's Italian Easter Bread in the oven on Shockingly Delicious
  5. Heat oven to 350F degrees, and bake loaf for 30 minutes. The top will be brown and it will sound hollow if you thump the bottom.
  6. Remove from oven, transfer loaf to a rack and cool completely before cutting. (If you allow it to cool while still on the baking sheet, the condensation from cooling will make the bottom soggy. So move it!)
  7. Cut and serve with butter (we enjoy Kerrygold unsalted), and enjoy!

Quick notes

Follow the instructions that come with your bread machine. Some makers recommend yeast first, some recommend yeast last, etc. You’ll get the best result if you scan the little pamphlet that came with the machine and heed it.

*Dough consistency

Grammy's Italian Easter Bread on Shockingly DeliciousI made this bread many times before, and 1/2 cup milk was the right amount. The other day I made it and the dough wasn’t holding together correctly, and looked dry to me during the mixing/kneading phase in the bread machine, so I added more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it looked right (an additional 1/4 cup total). Why did it work some times, and not the other? It could have been that my eggs were old and so were drier and less liquidy. It could have been that this time I made it on a super-dry winter day, so my flour naturally contained less moisture than usual. My point is that you need to peek at the dough while it is kneading, even in an automatic bread maker, and possibly adjust the moisture content of the dough, depending on weather or ingredient factors.

Making it without a bread machine

For those who would like to try this bread entirely by hand, you can do it as you would any bread recipe. You mix the ingredients together (KitchenAid mixer?), knead for awhile until it is soft and elastic (by hand of you want to get a workout, or by using the dough hook in your KitchenAid mixer if you don’t), then shape and do the first rise (30-60 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is). Punch down, reshape and do the second rise, and then bake. The dough cycle on the bread machine simply does the mix, knead, first rise and punch down, so that’s the part you need to add to this recipe if you want to do it all by hand. My grandmother didn’t leave specific directions for all those steps (back in the day, I think, you were expected to just know!), but if you consult any basic bread recipe that has 2 rises, you can get the general idea as well.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 2 1/2 hours (including mixing, kneading, rising, baking in bread machine)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: Italian
My rating 10 stars:  ★★★★★★★★★★ 

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanusree March 27, 2013 at 8:33 am

Hi Dorothy, I tried your recipe yesterday and we loved the our Easter Italian buns. I have blogged about it today and linked to your post for the recipe. thanks for posting. have a great day !
following you in FB now.


Dorothy Reinhold March 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I love your interpretation with the braids. They look so pretty photographed in black and white, too. Well done!

Reply March 25, 2013 at 9:40 am

Oh, love is definitely the secret ingredient! Did she ever make it into a basket with colored Easter eggs?


Dorothy Reinhold March 25, 2013 at 10:16 am

No, but that is a really cute idea!


Rossella March 8, 2013 at 5:18 am

Great bread and great recipe.
I agree with you. Bread aroma around home is so amazing, it’s poetic, tempting. It give a real flavour of home.


yee March 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Thanks Dorothy for sharing the recipe. Qtn of the day: possible to get as good a result if we use whole grain flour such as spelt? What is your intuition on this? Lots of butter when having the bread by slice, YES!


Dorothy March 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I have not baked with spelt flour yet, so I truly don’t know! I do know you could add probably sub up to half of the flour as white whole wheat (King Arthur makes a version of this), and it will be fine.


sippitysup March 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

I’m still unafraid of butter! GREG


Dorothy March 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm



Liz March 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

An eggy bread with butter sounds like pure heaven! Many thanks to your Grammy for passing this one down through the generations.


Lyn @LovelyPantry March 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I’m telling you, Grandmother’s are the best! I think its something in their hands. This is a beautiful bread!


Renee - Kudos Kitchen March 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Your bread looks phenomenal!! I can tell just by the pictures that it’s the perfect consistency and texture. I can almost smell it from here 🙂


Dorothy March 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Oh yeah…you can smell this one, and you want it!


kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts March 1, 2013 at 11:43 am

What simple ingredients (and a simple technique–I’ve even started mimicking my bread machine by temporarily cranking up the speed on my stand mixer while making pizza dough–is that weird?) and what a lovely looking loaf.
Thanks to you and your Grammy.


Jeanne @JollyTomato March 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

Your grandma sounds a lot like mine! What a beautiful bread…and I love the idea of using the bread machine – that makes the whole operation seem a lot more do-able. Yum!


Amy March 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

Any chance you’d share the non bread machine version of your recipe? I love to make bread and don’t have a machine. Thanks! It sounds delicious – I know my girls will love it!


Faye March 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I second Amy’s request.
It’s wonderful that you got the shape of the bread in such an even round ball. Any tips on shaping, or was it simply that the dough was firm and therefore easy to shape?


Dorothy March 2, 2013 at 6:58 am

It is a firm dough, and so I just shaped it in a round, plopped it on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and stuck it in a barely warm oven to rise. By barely warm, I mean I turned the oven on for 10-15 SECONDS, turned it off, and then put the bread in there to rise. (Put your hand in the oven to test…it should feel just slightly warmer than the air in the kitchen. It should not be hot or you will prematurely kill your yeast and bake the bread.) My kitchen was drafty that day, so I wanted a warm environment for the rise. I added some rudimentary directions on doing it all by hand to the recipe. Cheerio, and hope that helps!


Faye March 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Thanks so much, Dorothy. I often put breads to rise in the turned-off oven too. I guess my question about making it by hand was more about the proportions of the ingredients when you make the bread by hand, because you mentioned you did a little tinkering to get the recipe to work in the bread machine.


Dorothy March 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I adjusted the proportions to make it fit into the bread machine, since the bread machine only can take 3 cups of flour. So everything is scaled slightly down.

Holly March 1, 2013 at 10:20 am

Your bread is beautiful– especially the photos of it in the rising stages. Making bread at home is such a special process and I am happy to bake along with you this month. Thanks for sharing this family memory.


Christina March 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

Brava, Dorothy! Looks good!


Lora @cakeduchess March 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

If this was your grammy Zito’s tried and true recipe…I have to try it. It looks amazing, Dorothy. The weather does have an impact. Each time I make a dough it is a little different. This is perfect for March #TwelveLoaves!


Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom March 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

I love this bread! It’s so pretty and perfect! Love that you made your Grammy’s bread. . and I totally agree, “back in the day when we all weren’t afraid of butter!”. . Like Julia, we need to use butter and not be afraid of it!!! Esp when it comes to baking bread like this! wow, you only had to use 1 tablespoon?


Dorothy March 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

1 tablespoon in the bread, but then we like to put a THICK coating on each piece when it is cut!


Burton March 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

Would love to see the original recipe as I don’t own a bread machine!


Renee March 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

The caption in your photo says it all “flour, eggs, butter, and love” and love being the most important ingredient. Anything made with love is the absolute most precious gift of all.


Dorothy March 1, 2013 at 7:46 am



Paula @ Vintage Kitchen March 1, 2013 at 5:54 am

I believe this bread is good year round! Barely sweet, just wonderful for sandwiches Dorothy!


Sherron@SimplyGourmet March 1, 2013 at 5:47 am

Your bread looks amazing! I miss making regular bread, especially after seeing this. I love recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, it keeps us all connected. Enjoy your day!


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