This is a fun twist on my family’s traditional pane di Pasqua! Made entirely vegan, this Italian Easter bread is full of orange zest with a sweet pillowy soft bread. Decorated with vegan Easter eggs and sprinkles!
- 1 1/2 cups dairy free milk (330 grams)
- 2 1/4 tsp (7 grams) active yeast
- 4 1/2 cups flour (570 grams) + 1 tsp all-purpose flour (and more for kneading)
- 1/2 cup vegan butter (115 grams), then melt and cool to room temperature
- 4 tbsp maple syrup, room temperature
- zest from 1 medium orange
- 1/4 tsp ground anise
- 1 tbsp melted vegan butter (vegan bread wash)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (vegan bread wash)
- vegan chocolate eggs, such as those by Doisy & Dam, vegan sprinkles
- Measure and weigh out all ingredients before beginning. Grease a large bowl with cooking or coconut oil and set aside (this bowl is for the rising and is different than the bowl you’ll use to mix the dough).
- Heat the dairy-free milk to 110F. Use a food thermometer to ensure that it’s exactly 110F.
- Activate the yeast: Once heated, add the yeast and 1 tsp of flour to the heated dairy-free milk. Stir with a wooden spoon and cover. Place the bowl in a warm area (75-80F) to activate for 10-12 minutes. Your yeast may bloom faster or slower depending on the warmth of the area. You’ll know it’s ready when it smells yeast-like and there is foam on the top of the dairy-free milk. If this hasn’t happened, you’ll need to start over.
- Make the dough: Add the activated yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with dough paddle attachment or a large bowl. Then add in the melted vegan butter, maple syrup, orange zest, and star anise. Turn the stand mixer on to medium-low speed and mix (or use a large spoon to mix if doing by hand). Mix until just combined. Then add in about half of the flour mixture, and mix on medium speed until the flour starts to incorporate into the wet mixture. Add the remaining flour into the bowl and continue mixing on medium/medium-high speed until a shaggy dough forms.
- Knead the dough: lightly flour a clean surface and begin to knead the dough. You’ll knead for 2-4 minutes, until a smooth dough ball forms. Then place the dough ball into the greased bowl, and cover with a thin clean dish towel. Place the bowl in a warm area that’s at least 85F. If your oven has a proof setting, you can use that. You can also heat the oven to 100F, then turn it off and keep the oven light on. Proof the bread until it’s doubled in size, about an hour. If your area is cooler, it will take longer, if it’s warmer, it will be quicker.
- Make the pane di Pasqua: while the dough is rising, you can line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down lightly and gently pull the dough from the bowl onto a clean surface. Use a pizza cutter or large kitchen knife to divide the dough into 5 even pieces. You can weigh them out for a more accurate dough. Take one piece and divide that further into three pieces. Gently shape each of the three pieces into long strands. Pinch them together at the top and start to braid the dough. Then carefully and gently tuck the two ends together. Place the braided wreath onto the parchment paper. Repeat for the remaining Pane di Pasqua rolls, placing them on the baking sheet when done.
- Second rise: cover the Pane di Pasqua with a thin clean dish towel again and place in a warm area (by the oven is fine) to nearly double in size again. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Bake the Pane di Pasqua: once the Pane di Pasqua has risen and the oven is preheated, mix together the tablespoon of melted vegan butter and maple syrup for the bread wash. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the mixture over the tops of the braids. You can lightly coat them with vegan sprinkles if you’d like. Place the Pane di Pasqua into the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes. The tops should be lightly golden and slightly crusted and hard, but not over baked.
- Remove the Easter bread from the oven. Allow them to cool slightly, then carefully press the chocolate eggs into the crevices of the braid. Serve warm with vegan butter, jam, or your favorite savory spread.
- Storage: store any leftover pane di Pasqua in an airtight container or baggy. They will last at room temperature for 1-2 days, in the fridge for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Keywords: pane di Pasqua, Italian Easter bread