Italian Easter Bread Gone Horribly Wrong

I was a little overzealous after my successful baking venture with homemade pretzels a few weeks back. This past weekend, I decided to bake something for the Easter season, to get into the spirit. It would cheer me up, since obviously, I had to cancel my annual Easter Sunday Party.

I thought it would be fun to bake Italian Easter bread (Pane Di Pasqua). This bread is symbolic of the season.The eggs represent rebirth and renewal. The bread, the Body of Christ, and the sweetness is for celebrating after the Lenten season, where Christians reflect, repent and fast for 40 days.

And I’ll be honest, I also wanted to post my perfectly curated photo on Instagram. It would no doubt outshine all those sourdough bread pictures I keep seeing. I’ll show them!

Baking makes a huge mess.
Baking makes a huge mess.

God had another plan. He decided to teach me a lesson about one of the seven deadly sins… pride. My mother always says, “God works in mysterious ways”. Well, this time God spoke to me through baking.  My Italian Easter bread went horribly wrong. The measuring, timing, temperatures, alive yeast (eek), cat hair in the dough, zesting and impromptu muddling made the experience difficult and overwhelming. The exact opposite effect I wanted, resulting in no Instagram glory.

Placing the eggs within the braid was a challenge
Placing the eggs within the braid was a challenge.

Frustrated, I texted my friend Dave (great sourdough bread maker by the way) for some guidance and support. “I should just stick to eggplant parmesan,” Dave responds, “ Naw you got this!!”

I proceeded with more challenges. Braiding and stretching the dough was hard. Placing the eggs within the braid was difficult too. I won’t even get into the DIY egg dyeing part. Starting this project in the late afternoon was another amateur mistake. I was in the kitchen for 5 hours. Finally ready for the oven, I forget to make the temperature lower than the recipe calls for. I have a WOLF and it gets hotter than regular household ovens.  After all that work, I almost burned the darn thing. All said and done, I didn’t finish up until 10:30p.m. I was too tired to wait for it to cool so I went to bed without tasting it.

The next morning I examined the bread. The eggs had brown spots on them. I’m not sure if they burned or if that was from the egg/water wash.

I sawed a piece off. I took a bite. The texture was hard then chewy, unlike the desired fluffy finish. The recipe called for orange juice, zest and anise. I put too much anise in. It tasted like an old bottle of anisette liqueur from your grandfather’s basement. And it was very salty, barely edible (sigh). All that work for nothing. This was definitely my first and last time trying to make Italian Easter bread.

The disappointing final picture. The brown spots on the eggs are a mystery
The disappointing final picture. The brown spots on the eggs are a mystery.

I have a new appreciation for the art of baking and a  new motto – stick to what you’re good at.

If you’re ambitious or an experienced baker, find the Italian Easter bread recipe here: I’m sure it’s delicious, if you’re good at baking.

Follow Paula for the day to day on Instagram – @theglorifiedtomato


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