Braided Easter bread – treccia di Pasqua

Braided Easter bread

Add this braided Easter bread to your Easter menu this year!

Super easy to prepare, you can make this braided Easter bread by hand if you like a bit of a workout. However if you have a stand mixer, it’ll take only a few minutes to make.

I have made this bread with sourdough as usual, but you can make it with dried yeast as well. If you want to use dried yeast however, I would highly recommend to use a small quantity and allow the dough to rest longer. This will yield a better quality bread.

Many traditional Easter sweets in Italy are not super packed with sugar and this is one of them. In some regions in Italy whole eggs are added to it as a sign of rebirth and renewal.

Braided Easter bread: Tips to kneading by hand

If you do not have time and have a stand mixer, use the hook attachment to knead this bread. It will take only 10 minutes from start to finish. However, if you want to challenge your self a bit (and to a bit of workout) you can also try to make it by hand. It takes a bit longer but it’s a great way to get to know the dough and its consistency.
To reduce the effort and time to make this bread you can take advantage of a process called “autolysis“. You can simply mix the ingredients, without adding the butter, and leave the dough to rest for several hours. The waiting time will help to develop the gluten mesh in the dough so you won’t have to knead it for 15minutes. After the resting time, knead the dough for a minute and then add the butter.
Adding the butter after the gluten mesh has developed, is key to making a very soft bread. In fact, adding the fat later, will help to form a stronger mesh that will allow for the bread to rise properly.

Easter braid

Easter bread: how to choose your flour

As usual the key to making a great bread is choosing high quality ingredients. In fact I made this bread with a mix of ancient wheat grains from Sicily, and that is why it does not have that classic stringy texture you often see in sweet breads. Actually I do not like using white flour. I think that food should nourish, and white flour definitely does not contain any nutrient.

I recommend using whole or semi whole wheat flour, the taste is better and it contains more fibers. Butter too should be high quality. The quality of butter is essential when preparing brioche breads. Look for organic butter made with pasture-raised milk.

 

Ingredients for braided Easter bread

  • 500gr of flour (I used whole durum wheat fine semolina and semi whole wheat flour)
  • 300ml of milk
  • 150gr of sourdough (or 5gr of dried yeast)
  • 1 large egg
  • 80gr butter
  • 100gr of sugar
  • 150gr of raisins
  • 1 lemon and 1 orange zest
  • 1 tbs of cream and 1 yolk to brush

How to make braided Easter bread by hand

Step 1
In a large bowl put milk, egg, sugar and sourdough starter (or dried yeast). Mix well then add the flour and the zests. Mix until all ingredients are well combined and you get a sticky ball of dough. Leave it to rest for 30min and up to 12h if you want to reduce the kneading time. If the room temperature is higher than 21°C (70°F) leave the dough to rest in the fridge.
NOTE: if you use dried yeast, leave the dough to rest for 12h.

Step 2
After the resting time, knead the dough for a minute until it becomes smooth. Then add the butter (should be at room temperature). Knead for a few minutes and leave to rest for another 30min. Now add the raisins and knead to incorporate well.

TIP: to see if the dough has the right consistency you can take a small ball and pull it until you can see through without breaking it.

Step 3
Divide the dough into three and roll the pieces into cylinders. Braid the dough and leave it to rise on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and let the braid rise until it’s almost doubled in size.

Step 4
Pre heat the oven to 180°C (360°C). Brush the braid with the mixture of cream and yolk and decorate with sugar granules or other decoration you like. Before putting the bread in the oven sprinkle some water on the bottom of the oven to generate some steam, add the baking tray and close the oven immediately. This will help in making the outside of the bread softer. Cook for around 35/40min.
Cool the braid on a wire rack and enjoy!

 

 

How to make braided Easter bread with a standing mixer

Step 1
In the bowl of the mixer put milk, egg, sugar and sourdough starter. Mix well then add the flour and the zests. Mix for 5/6 minutes until all ingredients are well combined and you get a very smooth ball.

Step 2
Now add the butter  and knead for a few minutes. Add the raisins and knead at low speed to incorporate them.

Follow step 3 and 4 

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