Soft, warm and fluffy Easter bread sweetened with orange zest and topped with sprinkles and chocolate Easter eggs.
It just wouldn’t be Easter without the smell of warm, fluffy sweet bread rising in the oven. Everyone has their version of Easter bread, tried and tested over the generations, baked every Easter with pride. My sweet orange Easter bread is flavoured with a light touch of Fernet-Branca, sweetened with orange glaze and topped with colourful sprinkles and chocolate Easter eggs.
Fernet-Branca is an acquired taste, to say the least. If you’ve never tried it, it’s best to take a deep breath and have an open mind, the taste is strong and distinctive. When Fernet is used in baking the flavour is subtle and aromatic, adding that little hint of something special. It’s also an expensive import, so if you don’t have any on hand I don’t recommend running out and buying a bottle just to try in this recipe. Any bitters would work, or even a splash of sherry or rum.
I don’t think in the olden days our ancestors drizzled glaze and sprinkles over their Easter bread, but I’m sure they would approve.
I hope you all have a wonderful Easter with your loved ones! I’m heading down to Seattle for the first time and I’m so excited. Extra bonus – it’s a girls only trip (ie. no husbands or kids!) for the first half of the weekend, and then coming back home for Easter dinner and chocolate egg hunts with the Argentinian and our little Sidekick.
Sweet Orange Easter Bread
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- zest of one orange
- 1 and 1/8 teaspoons quick-rise active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup butter, melted + more for greasing
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Fernet-Branca (or other bitter spirits)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Warm the milk in a small saucepan until just warm, not hot. Mix in the orange zest and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Add in the warm milk mixture, and mix until a very rough dough begins to form.
- Add the melted butter, orange juice and lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until the dough comes together, adding more flour if necessary. The dough will still be slightly sticky at this stage.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until it becomes soft and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and lightly grease with oil or butter. Place in a bowl and loosely cover, leaving to rise for about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, divide the ball into 2 sections. Roll each section out into a long rope, approximately 1.5 inches wide and 20 inches long. Loosely twist the 2 ropes together, then bring the ends together to form a circle.
- Transfer the circle to the prepared tray and brush with the remains of the melted butter. Loosely cover and let rise again for another hour.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, until just turning golden brown on top. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- While the bread is cooling, whisk together the icing sugar and orange juice to make the glaze. Glaze the bread once completely cooled. Top with sprinkles and chocolate Easter eggs.