I have heard the expression labor of love, but not until yesterday did I truly find the meaning. Every Easter when I was a child my grandmother would make this Italian Egg Bread Wreath or Pane Di Pasqua as well as her famous Pound Cake Recipe. It is a sweet bread that was braided with colored eggs and baked. I can remember her making individual ones too, making space ships for the boys and purses for the girls. I have a hand written recipe in a binder and glance at it every once in a while. We have not had the bread in over 12 years. I decided I would try my grandmothers Italian Egg Bread Wreath this year, and after 7 hours I realized just how time consuming this was and it really was a labor of love.
Don’t stop reading about this Italian Egg Bread Wreath because you saw 7 hours. This included 4 hours of rising, 1 hour baking and then cooling. More importantly for me was that I was able to share with my children this morning a tradition that was almost lost. I felt so proud when it was a basic success and my kids each had a slice this am telling me they liked it, even if it was just to make me feel better.
I am always a little nervous about yeast recipes, I have had more disasters than achievements. Mainly with cinnamon rolls etc. I had called my mom for advice and ironically she had never made it either but had watched enough times that I could FaceTime her and get her opinion on things. Technology in this respect is so wonderful.
Color your eggs early on, I had no idea it takes that long to dry. These are eggs are not cooked so just be careful when dyeing them.
The key is to make sure your Yeast is active and that you see it rises completely.
Then you make two different dough mixtures that need to rise. Once again, be sure you notice a difference in size and it is rising in a warm place.
Next is the braiding part. Trick is to leave space to place your colored eggs. You will allow this to rise again so you will be able to maneuver the eggs if they don’t feel secure.
Ready to go into the oven.
I almost cried when I came downstairs with 20 minutes left on the clock and found my Italian Egg Bread Wreath darker than I remember. All this work, and my oven ruins it. Just be sure to check your oven after 30 minutes, 40 minutes etc. The recipe suggests 60 minutes.
Once it is cooled, you get to frost it with simple powder sugar mixture and sprinkles.
Hope you enjoy this Italian tradition and don’t be afraid to try dishes you are not used to making.
I came down early this am, and ate the first slice by myself. I think I was nervous and anxious to see if I replicated the same taste and it brought about many fond memories as a kid. I hope that with this recipe, you too look for a recipe that maybe has been lost in your generation, one that means something to you, and at least try to make it for your family. On the other hand, if you are the cook in your family, be sure to right down the recipes of dishes that your family enjoys, especially holiday ones, so they can continue to have these in the years to come.
Italian Egg Bread Wreath
- 8 raw eggs, dyed and greased with butter or shortening
- 1/2 c warm water
- 2 packages Dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6 cups of flour divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs & 1 egg white
- Frosting: 1 egg white, 2 tbs milk, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla
- colored candy sprinkles
- Activate yeast by mixing warm water with the sugar until dissolved. Add yeast and set aside until the mixture begins to foam slightly, 5-10 min.
- Blend 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl Add yeast mixture and beat until smooth. Cover with was paper and towel Rise in a warm place about 2 hours.
- Cream shortening, and blend in lemon juice and rind. Add sugar and salt gradually beating until fluffy.
- Beat 2 eggs and 1 egg white until thick.Add eggs to sugar mixture gradually and beat well. Sift flour and add half to yeast mixture beating until smooth. Mix enough of remaining flour to make a soft dough. Can be done with a dough hook.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until the dough is soft and smooth. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 2 hour.s
- Once the dough has doubled, knock back and turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and gently roll each into an 36” rope about 1 1/2 inches thick. (If the dough springs back on you, cover the ropes with a damp towel and let rest for 5-10 minutes to relax the gluten. Then try rolling them out again.)
- Pinch one end of all three ropes together and braid loosely. Shape the braid into a ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently tuck the dyed, raw eggs into the braid. Cover and allow to. Until nearly doubled in bulk.
- After 30 minutes rising time, preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Bake the bread for 30-45 minutes, until the ring is golden and sounds hollow when tapped gently. Let cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
- Beat egg wrote and rest of icing ingredients until smooth and spread on cold ring, sprinkle with colored candies. (you can use powdered sugar and lemon juice too for frosting)