Sweet Easter Bread (Viral Recipe)
on Apr 14, 2022, Updated Apr 01, 2023
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Sweet Easter Bread is so nostalgic for me: it symbolizes tradition, family, love, and my childhood in Bulgaria and Greece, gathering around the Easter table as a family. Bread was always a centerpiece to the delicious traditional meals I grew up enjoying. Many cultures have their own way of making sweet Easter bread, and this is mine. This recipe is very easy, comes together with minimal hands-on work, and yields a fluffy, tender, sweet bread. You don’t need the excuse of a holiday to make this bread—I can eat sweet bread every week, and it’s one of my favorite things to bake.
Table of Contents
Sweet Easter Bread
Activating the Yeast:
- 1 packet of active dry yeast (8 grams), or 2 teaspoons
- 1 tablespoon sugar (13 grams)
- ½ cup warm milk (125 ml)
Remaining Dough Ingredients:
- ½ cup avocado oil or any neutral oil (125ml)
- 3 room temperature eggs
- ¾ cup sugar (160 grams)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract , or vanilla bean paste
- 1 cup warm milk (250 ml)
- ½ cup unsalted melted butter (1 stick or 125ml), warm, not hot
- 6 cups all-purpose flour (940 grams), add more if needed
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or oil for greasing the dough-ball
Before you bake:
- egg wash = 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon milk
- sesame seeds, sugar, sprinkles, or any topping you like
- mini chocolate eggs for decoration (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the active dry yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Using a whisk, give it a quick stir, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes or until it foams up. If it does not activate or foam up, do not proceed with the remaining recipe. You need to start this step all over. See the recipe notes below for using instant yeast.
- Once the yeast activates, add the oil, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, warm milk, and melted butter. I melted the butter and milk together on the stove. Don’t add it in scorching hot; the butter and milk should be warm, not hot.
- Using a whisk, stir the ingredients until the egg yolks and whites are broken up. Add the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and, with the mixer on medium-low speed, mix while gradually adding the flour, until all the flour is included, and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. The dough will take 6 to 8 minutes to come together and knead.
- Remove the dough from the stand mixer, shape it into ball, and lightly grease it with the melted butter or oil. Place the dough back in the bowl of the stand mixer and loosely cover with a lint-free kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
- Leave the dough in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until the dough has tripled in size. I like to leave mine in the oven with the door closed. Do not turn the oven on; just leave it in there to rise in a draft-free environment. While the dough is rising, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Once risen, punch the dough down and place it on a clean counter. Cut the dough in half and cut each half into 3 equal pieces. You should have 6 equal pieces of dough. (I weighed my pieces and they were 283 g each, but weighing is not a required step.) Form each dough piece into a ball and then roll each ball into a 14 to 15-inch-long rope. Line up 3 of the the ropes in parallel lines and pinch the tops of the 3 pieces together to bind them. Then, braid the 3 ropes to form a loaf. Pinch the bottom of the 3 ropes together to seal the braided loaf.
- Make the second loaf with the remaining 3 pieces of dough, following the same pinching and braiding method. Once the two loaves are braided, transfer them onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheets, cover them with a lint-free kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let them rise in a warm spot for 1 hour. After 45 minutes, place a rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 350F.
- After the loaves have risen, uncover them and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle on sesame seeds (or your topping of choice) and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. You may need to bake the loaves one at a time depending on if they fit on one baking sheet or if two baking sheets fit on one shelf of the oven.
- My loaves took 35 minutes to bake. Keep an eye on them as they bake, as the baking time will depend on the model of oven and how tightly the loaves are braided. If you are unsure if your loaves are done, you can insert an instant-read thermometer in the center of the loaf. The bread is ready when it is 190F in the interior.
- Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and let cool completely. At this point, you can decorate the loaves with some mini eggs, if you like. Once the loaves are cool, serve or wrap well in plastic wrap to ensure they stay nice and fresh for the following day. This sweet bread is perfect even after a few days; all you have to do is toast it and add some butter on top. Enjoy!