Easter egg bread is a type of braided bread which is made with eggs
tucked into the braids. Traditionally, Easter egg bread is made in the form of a ring, and the eggs are typically dyed in festive Easter colors. The bread base is usually similar to challah, and it comes out rich, fluffy, and designed to be easily pulled apart.
This traditional food is Greek in origin. In Greece, families have been making and exchanging Easter egg bread during Orthodox Easter celebrations for centuries. Traditionally, the eggs are dyed red, to symbolize the blood of Christ and His rebirth. People outside of Greece often use eggs dyed in pastel colors, because these colors are closely associated with Easter, especially in the United States.
To make Easter egg bread, cooks make their favorite egg or milk
bread recipe and allow it to rise. After the dough has risen, it is punched down and divided into chunks which can be rolled out into strands for braiding. Many people like to make a simple three strand braided bread, although other patterns are possible. The bread is braided into a ring, with eggs being tucked into pockets in the braid, and it is allowed to rise before being brushed with an egg and milk mixture and then being baked. Some cooks also like to sprinkle seeds on the bread after glazing
, for more texture and flavor in the finished Easter egg bread.
Most cooks use raw eggs in their Easter egg bread, because the eggs will bake right along with the bread. As the bread rises, it creates a protective pocket which will hold and insulate each egg from the direct heat of the oven. Because of the risk of salmonella from eggshells, it is a good idea to wash the eggs well before weaving them into the braid. Cooks who want to dye their eggs can soak them in vinegar
and food coloring
and then pat them dry before adding them to the bread. For cooks concerned about exploding eggs, a small hole can be poked
in each egg shell to allow it to release steam as it is baked, although this is not vitally necessary.
Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania
A Cozonac is traditional Easter Bread in Bulgaria, Kulich is a traditional Russian Easter Bread. Kolach is a traditional Czech bread made at Christmas in the shape of a ring. Usually, three rings are stack on top of each other to represent the Holy Trinity. Ukrainian Easter Bread is called Paska, which is a rich, white bread decorated on the top with symbols, including crosses, flowers, braids, wheat, or other designs representing aspects of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic faith. Babka is also a Ukrainian, Polish and Belarusian bread also made at Easter. Rather than being broad and round, like Paska, Babka typically is tall and cylindrical. It frequently contains raisins, may be iced on top, and is much sweeter than Paska. Babka usually is only made, like Paska, to celebrate Easter Sunday and the rising of Christ.
Romania and Moldova also have a traditional Easter bread called Pasca (The term “pasca” is Easter in the Eastern Orthodox faith, similar to Pâques in French. It is derived from the Hebrew "pesah".). The Romanian Pasca bread is made with cheese (and may also include fruits, nuts, or chocolate for decoration). It will always be found alongside another traditional sweet bread which Romanians make for Easter and Christmas called cozonac.