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Italian Easter bread on cooling rack

Pane di Pasqua (Italian Easter Bread)

  • Author: thebananadiaries
  • Prep Time: 30
  • 90 minutes to rise:
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 17 minute
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This is a fun twist on my family’s traditional pane di Pasqua or Italian Easter bread! Made entirely vegan and topped with a homemade vegan white chocolate egg, this Italian Easter bread is full of orange zest and almonds with a sweet pillowy soft bread. The perfect bread centerpiece for your Italian Easter celebration!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Italian Easter Bread

  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) dairy free milk, heated to 110F
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar or coconut sugar, divided
  • 4 cups (550 g) bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 2.5 tsp (.25 oz) dry activated yeast
  • 12 tbsp (185 g) unsalted salted vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 grams) unsweetened applesauce or dairy free yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) juice from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • orange zest from 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (omit if nut free)
  • vegan “egg” wash*

Vegan White Chocolate Eggs:

  • 2 cups vegan white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate
  • 1/2 cup vegan sprinkles
  • 23 drops blue vegan food coloring or blue butterfly pea powder
  • 1 silicone egg mold

Instructions

  1. Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  2. Prep: Grease a medium bowl with olive or coconut oil, and set aside. Generously grease a 9″ loaf pan with olive or coconut oil as well, and set aside.
  3. Bloom the yeast: In a separate large bowl, combine the dairy free milk, 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, 1 tsp bread flour, and activated yeast. Mix with a wooden spoon, and cover. Place in a warm area to activate for about 10 minutes. The yeast should begin to foam and smell yeast-like (similar to beer). 
  4. Make the dough: Once the yeast is activated,  you’ll start the dough. In a large bowl or using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the bread flour and remaining sugar to the bowl. Mix just until the sugar is mixed throughout the flour. Then add in the dairy free yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, almond extract, and bloomed yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed until a very shaggy dough forms, about 3-4 minutes. Then add in the tablespoons of vegan butter, and begin to mix again on medium speed. Stop every so often to reincorporate the butter. Once the vegan butter is incorporated, turn the speed of the stand mixer onto high, and allow the dough to be kneaded in the bowl for about 10-15 minutes, or until soft and pliable. The dough might still be slightly tacky, but should not leave globs of dough on your finger tip.
  5. Knead the dough: Once it starts to form a ball, lightly flour a clean surface and shape the dough into a ball. 
  6. First proof: Place the dough ball into the medium sized greased bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm area (ideally above 80F) to rest for about 60-120 minutes, or until doubled in size. 
  7. 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, bench scraper, or large kitchen knife to divide the dough into 4-6 even pieces (depending on how many loaves you would like to make. You can also just make one loaf). You can weigh them out for a more accurate dough. Take one piece and divide that further into three pieces. Gently roll each of the three pieces into long strands. Pinch them together at the top and start to braid the dough (see post photos). 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. Bake the Pane di Pasqua: once the Pane di Pasqua has risen and the oven is preheated, make the vegan egg wash (see notes section). 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.
  10. Shape the bread for the egg: Remove the Easter bread from the oven. Using an oven mitt, take the silicone egg mold and gently press one of the eggs on the egg mold into the center of each loaf. This will create a cavity for the vegan white chocolate egg to rest. Allow them to cool entirely while you make the vegan white chocolate eggs.
  11. Make the vegan white chocolate eggs: Melt the vegan white chocolate, either via stovetop or microwave. Add the blue food coloring to the white chocolate, and mix until completely mixed in. Pour the vegan white chocolate into the egg molds all the way to the top. You will have 8 egg halves. If you’ve made more than 4 loaves, you can make more eggs. 
    1. Place the egg mold into the freezer to set for just 3-4 minutes. Then remove the egg mold, and scoop out the inside of the eggs (see photos), saving the centers of the eggs for when we seal the eggs together.
    2. Place the egg mold back into the freezer if the chocolate isn’t quite set. Freeze until it’s cold and set.
    3. Then remove again and carefully remove 4 of the egg halves. Fill the remaining 4 of the halves with sprinkles. If the saved white chocolate is starting to harden, remelt it.
    4. Then brush the rims of the sprinkled white chocolate halves with the melted vegan white chocolate. Quickly press the unfilled egg half on top to seal the egg shut. Allow the eggs to harden in the freezer. 
    5. Remove the eggs from the freezer and place them on a plate. Remove the eggs entirely from the mold. Melt the vegan chocolate and take a pastry brush or hard bristle brush, and splatter the outsides of the eggs. Place the eggs back into the freezer for 2 minutes.
  12. Decorate the Italian Easter bread: place 1 egg into the center of each loaf. Serve immediately and enjoy!
  13. 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.

Notes

Vegan egg wash: 1 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tbsp soy milk, mixed together

 

Keywords: pane di Pasqua, Italian Easter bread