Easter 2024: Pane di Pasqua - The Italian Special Festive Bread
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Italians, like other traditional cultures that observe Easter, have their own renditions of pane di Pasqua, often known as Easter bread. The one that follows is a traditional Easter bread recipe originating from an Italian American family, characterised by its braided structure. However, alternative bread types, such as a loaf, may also be preferred. 

This delectable and fragrant Italian delicacy is accompanied by a simple filling, creating a happy and delectable Easter treat. It shares a similar flavour and consistency with panettone, but it has a distinct shape and does not include raisins or candied fruits. In contrast, the flavours of this bread are derived from anise and lemon. 

Varieties can be found all over Italy. Easter bread can be shaped and called differently in different regions of Italy. It goes by several names in the southwest Calabrian region, including sguta, cuzzupa, and cu l'ovo. It goes by the names scarcella and gurrugulo in various parts of the world. A hard-cooked egg is baked in the centre of little doll-shaped loaves called pupi cu l'uova in Sicily. Another type of bread is crescia al formaggio, which is loaded with cheese and baked in a tall cylindrical pan. Pan di Ramerino is a savoury loaf from Tuscany made with rosemary, walnuts, raisins, olive oil, and spices. 

Here’s how to make at home


30g active dry yeast 

¼ cup warm water 

¾ cup sugar 

¼ cup milk 

4 large eggs, at room temperature 

1 tsp anise seeds 

1 ½ tbsp anise extract 

1 ½ tsp lemon extract 

1 tbsp lemon zest 

1 ¼ tsp salt 

2 tbsp vegetable oil 

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed 


Assemble everything you'll need. Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the heated water. Leave for 10 minutes or until froth forms.  Once the ten minutes have passed, whisk in the salt, oil, melted butter, eggs, anise seeds, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, and the rest of the milk. Thoroughly mix by hand, using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer.  

Add the flour, cup by cup, after the other ingredients have been mixed, until a sticky, moist dough forms.  

Transfer to a pastry board that has been lightly dusted with flour. For around 5 minutes, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, adding flour if necessary to prevent it from adhering to the surface.  

Scatter the dough into a basin that has been lightly coated with oil. Before covering the bowl with a damp towel, lightly oil the dough's surface. Put it in the oven when the light is on (but the oven is not hot). It will take around 6 to 12 hours for the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. Because it rises slowly, you can leave the dough in the container overnight without worrying that it will overflow.   

Punch down the dough once it has doubled. Split in half and transfer to a surface that has been lightly dusted with flour.  

Slice one piece into three equal lengths. Shape into a circle by braiding. Continue with the rest of the dough.   

Spread out baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set wreath loaves on top. Rest for two hours before covering loosely with plastic wrap that has been gently oiled.   

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Loaves should be baked for 25 minutes after rising, or until they turn golden and a digital thermometer reads 190 to 200 F. Take off and set on wire racks to cool.   

The loaves can be served right away or kept in an airtight container or zip-top bag for three days (or frozen) when they have cooled completely.