Photo by Eva Bronzini

Easter bread has deeper roots and a lot of symbolism, mainly baked in the shape of a wreath, which exemplifies the crown of thorns Jesus Christ wore at the crucifixion. 

Easter is a time of celebration, and essential family traditions arise, as with many religious festivals. Maybe your Easter tradition centers around baking fresh bread. Thus, now is the absolute time to grab those aprons and get busy in the kitchen – and what could be more tempting than the smell of freshly baked buns? Consider trying something new this year with one of these Easter bread recipes that will be welcome additions to your holiday menu. This article got all the beautiful bread inspiration you need to celebrate the long weekend, from traditional hot cross buns to traybakes with a twist.

The Tradition of Easter Bread

The tradition of creating special bread to celebrate holidays, harvests, religious rites, and others dates back thousands of years. Specific themes are popping up, whether they originate in Russia, England, France, Greece, or Italy: many are enriched bread made with fat and sugar. They are typically made with refined white wheat flour—throughout history, white flour was both prized and more expensive —and they often feature dried fruits, such as candied citrus or raisins. They also often contain warm spices like cardamom or cinnamon. Others have a touch of liqueur added to them. Some are baked with little surprises inside.

Easter and Good Friday inspire a rich array of festive bread to honor the occasion. Colomba di Pasqua, located in the Lombardy region of Italy, is where Easter Bread originated. From here, other countries started making their version of Easter Bread. 

You can also check out Gaccetta’s book on home-cooked food recipes. It is a collection of straightforward recipes and heartfelt stories of Italian life that brought families together around the table.   The Sweet Easter Bread recipe in Generations of Good Food (Gaccetta’s book) is loaded with butter, eggs and sugar as are so many of the recipes we have noted below.  So grab your apron and let’s get baking!

Top 3 Easter Bread Recipes 

Spend some time over Easter baking these brilliant bread recipes. Try everything from classic hot cross buns to spicy bread wreaths and monkey bread.  

1. Hot Cross Buns. This seasonal British specialty, known for its raisins, candied citrus peel, and crosses of sweet white icing, has long delighted families come Easter morning. Follow these three simple tips below for perfecting these classic spiced fruit rolls. They require a little more effort, but with patience and careful piping, you can have beautiful buns finished with a sticky apricot glaze.

  • Tip 1: In Making the dough: If the dough has been combined by hand, increase the kneading time to ten minutes. Structure the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, and turn to coat all sides with oil cover and let it rest for 30 minutes. 
  • Tip 2: Shape the buns: Punch the dough down, transfer to a lightly floured surface, and knead for 3 minutes. Form each dough into a ball, cover, and let rise until the buns double in volume and touch one another. 
  • Tip 3: Bake the buns until golden brown, about 20 minutes, and slightly cool it down before drizzling a vertical line across each row of buns, followed by a horizontal line to make a “cross” on the crown of each bun.

2. Spiced Fruit and Pistachio Bread Wreath. Be impressed with this decorative spiced fruit and pistachio wreath. This classic Eccles cake was given a ‘bake over’ by incorporating the currant and mixed peel filling into this stunning circular bread. Perfect for afternoon tea over Easter weekend.

  • Tip 1. Make the bread dough: Knead the dough for ten minutes or until soft. Leave it for about two hours in a warm area until it doubles in size.
  • Tip 2. Boil that Filling: Place the currants, mixed peel, cinnamon, zests, spice, and juice into a saucepan. Boil hard for about two to five minutes until the fruit has absorbed the liquid and become nice and plump. Chill until cold, then mix with the butter, sugar, and pistachios. 

3. Carrot Cake Monkey Bread. Combine two classic American and English bakes to produce a show-stopping carrot cake monkey bread. Zingy carrot cake spices mixed with sticky, sweet monkey bread create an irresistible bake that you would not hesitate to pull apart!

  • Tip 1. Tipping the Mixed Spices: Tip the flour, orange zest, carrots, spice, yeast, caster sugar, and one teaspoon of salt into a big bowl with the eggs. After, add the cooled milk mixture and bring it together into a sticky dough using your very own hands. 
  • Tip 2. Butter Up!: Generously butter twenty-five centimeters cast tin. Melt the remaining butter and leave it to slightly cool down.  
  • Tip 3. Whisking That Orange Juice. Slowly whisk the orange juice into the icing sugar to make a thick icing. Drizzle it over the bread and let it drip down the sides. Sprinkle over the orange zest and serve warm.

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