Best Easter Bread Recipes

 

Easter breads figure prominently in many cultures’ celebrations and are often the centrepiece of a festive Easter breakfast or dinner table. In my kitchen, Easter is the time where fresh, seasonal and local Scottish produce can take centre stage again. The herbs in my allotment tend to have sprung back to life and the rhubarb is back to its vigorous growth. Easter is also a great opportunity to get creative with bread, to get back to colourful and beautifully decorative sweet and savoury bakes. Here is my personal selection of the best Easter bread recipes I’ve tried and tested over the years or developed myself.

While the breads in this list are designed for Easter celebrations, they are equally good any other time of the year!

Torta Pasqualina Easter Bread
Torta Pasqualina Easter Bread

Best Easter bread recipes: sweet

These sweet Easter bread recipes all have one thing in common. They are based on heavily enriched doughs (eggs, butter, milk) and are abundantly laden with luxurious ingredients such as dried fruit and precious spices.

  1. Hot cross buns
    The UK’s very own spiced fruit buns marked with sweet icing. Use Andrew Whitley’s recipe for the real deal although I only use 1/2 the raisin quantity and 1/3 of the crystallised ginger. A beautiful recipe for delicious Easter buns!
  2. Pască
    This Romanian Easter recipe baked in a spring form will produce a deliciously soft braided bread circle with a beautiful cheesecake-like filling. Follow this recipe by Roxana’s Home Baking.
  3. Kulich
    One of the most impressive sweet Easter breads, this tall and cylindrical Russian Easter bread rises high and golden and is decoratively topped with white icing. You’ll need a panettone-style baking mould to get the desired shape; here’s an authentic recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen. I like to make my Kulich extra special by topping the icing with freshly plucked edible flower petals from the garden.
  4. Pinze
    A typical Austrian Easter bread from the Southern region of Styria. Wonderfully different based on the anise-wine flavour. Works equally well with afternoon tea and cold cuts of ham.
  5. Easter bread wreath
    A simple Easter bread wreath, made special by the generous use pistachio kernels for dough and topping.

Best Easter bread recipes: savoury

Easter breads don’t have to be sweet. Savoury Easter breads are perhaps lesser known but I promise you, they will deliver on taste and celebratory effect just as much as the sweet bread recipes.

Easter Pie
Easter Pie
  1. Hornazo
    A delicious Spanish Easter bread with a ham, chorizo sausage and hard-boiled egg filling. Very moreish. Use this well-researched Hornazo recipe by Ruchik Randhap.
  2. Flaounes
    Cheese-filled Easter pastries from Cyprus. I don’t usually like to refer to Paul Hollywood recipes when it comes to bread baking, but on this occasion I will because this recipe for flaounes works very well indeed.
  3. Torta Pasqualina
    This is more pie than bread but I feel it deserves a mention nonetheless. I love the taste of spring this Italian pie from Liguria evokes. Make your own pastry dough with this recipe for torta pasqualina by David Tanis instead of using shop-bought puff or filo. I use Swiss chard for the greens which I prefer to spinach and usually add fresh herbs such as parsley and dill.
  4. Casatiello
    Another Italian bread, this time from the Southern city of Naples. Filled with Italian cheeses, ham, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, olives and oregano, this bread is stuffed to the brim with Italian goodness. Recipe for Casatiello Napoletano here. Prepare a day ahead to increase scrumptiousness.

Osterpinze Recipe – Austrian Easter Bread

 

Osterpinze is a delicious Easter bread, made with an enriched yeast dough (milk, eggs, egg yolks and butter) and flavoured with anise wine and lemon zest.

It’s traditionally baked for Easter in the South of Austria (Styria), although its origins can be traced back to the region of Friuli in Northeast Italy. The traditional way the dough is cut into three sections gives the Pinze its unique appearance.

Osterpinze anise flavour
Osterpinze – a traditional Austrian Easter bread

Osterpinze Recipe

Baked especially for Easter, it can be eaten at breakfast, afternoon coffee or for Easter-Jause served with ham, freshly grated horseradish, hard-boiled eggs and radishes. The dough is just lightly sweetened, so it goes well with many dishes. The anise wine flavour is subtle and I recommend it even to those of you who are – like me – not a big fan of licorice.

A mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack of a slice of bread topped with cheese or ham is referred to as a Jause, and a more substantial version akin to a British “Ploughman’s Lunch” is called a Brettljause after the wooden board on which it is traditionally served. Source: Wikipedia

Ingredients for Osterpinzen

Day 1

Sourdough

  • 15g sourdough
  • 85g strong white wheat flour
  • 60g water

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, cover and keep at room temperature for the next day (about 16 hours).

Milk Roux

  • 100g whole milk
  • 30g strong white wheat flour

In a small saucepan, whisk the milk and flour until lump free, heating it up while whisking. Cover with cling film and let it cool down to room temperature before placing it in the fridge for the next day.

Sponge

  • 40g strong white wheat flour
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 30g whole milk

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl, cover and keep at room temperature.

Anise wine

  • 1 tbsp (5g) anise, roughly cracked with pestle and mortar
  • 125g white wine (e.g. Riesling or Pinot Blanc – use a wine with little acidity)

In a small bowl, combine the wine with the anise, cover and keep at room temperature. This will extract the anise flavour.

Anise seeds
Anise seeds
Anise wine
Anise wine: anise seeds soaked in white wine for a day

Day 2

Main dough

  • Sourdough
  • Milk roux
  • Sponge
  • Anise wine
  • 390g strong white wheat flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 65g sugar (I use icing sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 90g butter, softened
  • 6g salt
  • 1 lemon, zest only

 Glaze

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

How to make Osterpinzen

  1. Prepare the sourdough, milk roux, sponge and anise wine on day 1.
  2. On day 2, sieve the wine and discard the anise.
  3. Combine all the main dough ingredients (don’t forget to place a little bit of the sourdough back in the fridge for your next sourdough bake).
  4. Knead for 10 minutes.
  5. Place the dough in a bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl well and leave to rest for an hour or two (depending on the temperature in your room, until the volume has increased significantly).
  7. Divide the dough into two/three equal parts and shape into boules (LINK).
  8. Place the boules onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (make sure there is sufficient space between them).
  9. Cover with a cloth and leave to proof at room temperature for an hour or more.
  10. Brush with the egg and leave it soak in slightly.
  11. Then cut the dough three times from the centre to the edge with a pair of scissors.
  12. Bake at 200°C. Reduce the heat after 5 mins to 180°C and bake for a further 35 mins.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.

I served Osterpinze with honey this morning and with a ham and cheese board this afternoon. In both instances, the slices of Osterpinze were a perfect match.

Osterpinze
Osterpinzen – the eggs give it a wonderful colour and sheen

Austrian Easter Bread Wreath Recipe

 

Easter is a great time for baking – Spring is in the air, early gardening efforts are starting to bear fruit and there are lots of lovely seasonal baking ideas to play with. Hot cross buns are the traditional Easter treat in the UK. However, I’m not a huge fan of their fruit-heavy doughs and usually like to bake Easter breads containing nuts. Here is one of my favourite recipes for Easter, a traditional Austrian Easter bread wreath. The bread is enriched with milk and butter, spiced with vanilla, cardamom and lemon zest and glazed with honey and rum.

Easter Bread Wreath with Chopped Pistachios, Hard Boiled Eggs
Easter Bread Wreath with Chopped Pistachios, very decorative with colourful hard boiled Easter eggs

Austrian Easter Bread Wreath Recipe

Ingredients (makes 1 small wreath)

For the dough

  • 250g plain flour
  • 130g milk, lukewarm
  • 4g dried yeast
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 2 cardamom pods, seeds taken out and crushed with pestle and mortar
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp pistachios, ground or finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts, ground or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

For the topping

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
Easter Bread Wreath Close-Up
Easter Bread Wreath – You can see the different strands of dough come together here
Pistachio hazelnut sugar mix
Chopped pistachios, chopped hazelnuts, sugar for the Easter bread wreath dough

How to bake it

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, caster sugar, egg yolk, salt, vanilla sugar, crushed cardamom seeds and lemon zest and mix until it reaches an even consistency
  2. Add the flour, yeast and milk to the butter-sugar mixture and form a smooth dough; knead for approximately 10 minutes
  3. Cover the dough with the bowl and leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour
  4. Combine the ground or finely chopped nuts with the brown sugar
  5. Divide the dough into two equal parts
  6. Knead the nuts-and-sugar mix into one of the dough parts
  7. Lightly flour your work surface if the dough is prone to stick
  8. Use your hands and form each dough part into a long sausage form, 40 cm in length
  9. Form a rope with the two dough rolls by winding the rolls around each other
  10. Then bring the ends together to form a wreath, sealing the ends together to avoid them coming apart during the baking process
  11. Place the wreath on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cover with a clean kitchen towel for 30 minutes to 1 hour to prove
  12. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  13. Bake for 30 minutes
  14. Warm up the honey in a small pot and add the rum
  15. Brush the baked wreath with the mixture and sprinkle the roughly chopped pistachios on top

Great with a cup of tea or coffee, served for breakfast or afternoon tea!

Austrian Easter wreath bread
Austrian Easter bread wreath with a wonderful honey and rum glaze and colourful pistachio kernels sprinkled on top