While pondering a gift to take to the neighbors for Easter, the thought of bread came to mind, and I figured since we’re celebrating the Bread of Life that would be quite appropriate. However, I wanted something festive and springtime-y, so I went to Google and discovered many, many people celebrate Easter with a special Italian bread. It looks delicious, so here’s my adaptation.

Festive Easter Orange Bread

3/4 cup milk, heated to 110 degrees
zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon gluten
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)
egg wash or milk
dyed raw eggs, optional (They will cook while the bread cooks.)
Orange Glaze (powdered sugar and orange juice), if desired

Heat the milk and while it’s cooling a bit combine the sugar and orange zest. Add to the milk and stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Combine 4 cups of flour with the gluten. In another bowl beat the eggs with the salt. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour, then add the butter, orange juice and egg mixture. Add the remaining cup of flour if necessary. Once it’s formed a ball, knead on the counter, adding more flour as needed, until it’s nice and smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Before rising – after rising – forming the rings

Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a log. Twist 2 together, form a circle, pinch the ends together, and place them on a greased baking sheet. Let rise until double.

Carefully brush with egg wash, put on the sprinkles, and gently place an egg in the center if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Drizzle with glaze if desired.

Before and after baking – with and without the egg.

Note: Here are just a few of the sites that I looked at for ideas: Laura in the Kitchen, Brown-Eyed Baker, and The Italian Dish Blog.