Italian Easter Bread Wreath

Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.

As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!

Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. :/ Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.

Yield: One 10-inch round loaf

For the Starter:

  • 120 g (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Dough:

  • 269 g (2 1/4 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 67 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional (I omitted it)
  • grated peel of 1 large orange

For the Glaze:

  • 113 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
  1. To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
  2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
  3. Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
  5. Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  6. Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
  7. Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
  8. To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
  9. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

I love a crispy pizzelle! I was first introduced to these traditional Italian cookies by a friend who made them every year for our kids’ preschool Christmas celebration. They were so pretty and delicious that I put a pizzelle iron on my holiday wishlist. 🙂 Eating them with ice cream made me understand why my husband loves waffle cones too. This is a wonderful version with subtle lemon flavor.

This special dessert recipe was adapted from a Food 52 community pick, contributed by Hilarybee. I used lemon extract but may try orange next time. I also increased the amount of Meyer lemon zest and added salt.

The original recipe also recommends serving them filled with pastry cream or mousse or sandwiched with a little bit of lemon curd. Yum!

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature (I place them in a bowl of warm water)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure orange or pure lemon extract
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  1. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. Note: The eggs must be at least room temperature; cold eggs will result in an unworkable batter.
  3. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed.
  4. Add the extracts followed by the zest.
  5. On low-speed, add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Alternate between medium and low-speed while beating in the flour. (I turn it to low while pouring in the flour; medium to incorporate the flour before adding more).
  6. The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff.
  7. Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter into the iron. The cookies take about 25-30 seconds in the iron.

Note: Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups. I shaped them into cups by placing a hot cookie on the base of a juice glass and then topped it with an inverted glass prep bowl. The cookies cool very quickly and maintain the shape.

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

I made these colorful sugar cookies to bring to my friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party. She is always very festive and embraces every holiday with wonderful decorations and fun crafts.

Her 12-year old daughter even made this Leprechaun appetizer for the celebration. Amazing! 🙂

These cookies were originally called “End of the Rainbow” cookies in Martha Stewart Living. They had little candy “pots of gold” attached with icing. I preferred them plain! I added the colored sanding sugar on the outside of the cookie dough log instead. I also used a tried and true sugar cookie dough, from our birthday Number Cookies, but used the technique from the magazine to color and form the dough into rainbows.

I pre-cut the dough into semi-circles prior to baking but had to trim the bottom after baking to create a straight edge. Next time, I would bake them in full circles and cut them in half immediately after removing them from the oven instead. We did get to sample the cookies by eating all of the trimmed edges! 😉

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (10.6 oz)
  • gel food coloring (I used blue, yellow, and pink)
  • 1 large egg, yolk and white separated
  • colored sanding sugar (I used yellow)
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix on medium-high speed until combined.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Divide dough in half, about 1 pound each.
  5. Divide one half into 2 pieces, about 3/4 cup each. (I used a kitchen scale to divide it evenly.) Flatten one piece into a 3-by-5-inch rectangle; wrap tightly with plastic. Roll out other piece into an 8-inch rod shape, about 1 inch thick; wrap tightly with plastic.
  6. Divide remaining half of dough into 3 pieces, about 1/2 cup or about 5.8-6oz each. Tint each with one of the gel colors, as desired, stirring color in with a knife or spatula.
  7. Flatten each tinted piece into a 3-by-5-inch rectangle; wrap each tightly with plastic.
  8. Refrigerate all dough until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days (or freeze up to 1 month).
  9. In a small bowl, whisk egg white with a fork.
  10. Between sheets of plastic wrap, or on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the blue dough into a 4 or 5-by-8-inch rectangle, a scant 1/4 inch thick.
  11. While still enveloped in the plastic wrap, make sure that the edges meet after wrapping the log in the tinted dough; adjust if necessary.
  12. Unwrap and brush the top with egg white. Place dough rod on long edge of rolled-out dough, then roll rod inside it; seal at edges where dough meets by pinching and pressing gently. Freeze 10 minutes.
  13. Repeat with remaining dough, rolling yellow dough out to 5 or 6-by-8 inches, pink dough to 6 by 8 inches (1/8 inch thick), and un-tinted dough to 7 or 8-by-8 inches.
  14. Roll log in plastic wrap; twist ends closed. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.
  15. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  16. Let log soften at room temperature about 10 minutes; remove plastic wrap.
  17. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk with a fork. Coat the outside of the log with the egg yolk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  18. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice 1/4 inch thick, rotating log slightly after every slice to maintain even circles.
  19. Place slices on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until firm and just golden around edges, about 9 to 12 minutes.
  20. Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, cut each cookie in half with a sharp knife to form two rainbows.
  21. Let cool on sheet 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Soda Bread is a must-have celebratory breakfast in our house. This version was delicious slathered with butter.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Pegeen. I incorporated whole wheat flour and golden raisins. I baked the bread in a 10-inch ceramic baking dish. It was very tender- perfect with a cup of coffee. 🙂

Yield: One 10 or 11-inch round loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold (you may need a little less or more)
  • large eggs, cold
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into smaller chunks, plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • cup dark seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Meyer Lemon Breakfast Cake

I made this super moist and tender breakfast cake with my precious Meyer lemons. It could be made with regular lemons too, of course. I did think that the tangy glaze was a little over the top, so I modified the recipe to make half of the amount next time.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, via The View from the Great Island.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in addition to cake flour and baked the bread on convection in a Pullman loaf pan. Special and tasty. 🙂

For the Cake:

  • zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice to thin, start with 1 tablespoon and add more as necessary
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter (or spray with cooking oil spray) a Pullman loaf pan or 9×5 loaf pan and line it with parchment paper with long ends so you can lift the bread out later for glazing and slicing. Crease the ends so that they do not fold over onto the cake while it is baking.
  3. Remove the peel from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. A serrated peeler works best for this. You want to remove just the yellow part of the peel, with little of the bitter white part.
  4. Put the sugar and lemon peelings in a food processor and process until the peels are completely incorporated into the sugar.
  5. Put the lemon sugar and butter into a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy ~ a full 5 minutes.
  6. Beat in each of the eggs, one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixer, alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Finish mixing by hand, to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, but don’t over beat.
  8. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spread out evenly, and bake on the center rack for about 40 minutes in a Pullman pan, or up to 50-55 minutes in a standard loaf pan, or until fully risen and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine).
  9. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove, using the parchment paper handles, and let fully cool on a rack.
  10. Meanwhile whisk together the sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Spread the glaze over the cooled bread.

Lighter Pear Crumble

By using maple syrup and brown sugar as sweeteners as well as whole wheat pastry flour, oats and almonds in the topping, this recipe succeeds as a lighter version of this classic comfort food dessert. We indulged a little and ate it with vanilla ice cream, of course. 😉 Without the ice cream, this dish could actually be served for breakfast.

This recipe was adapted from The Washington Post, contributed by nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T almond meal or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (whole wheat flour may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used 6 Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 10×9-inch (can also use an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch) baking dish with cooking oil spray, or brush lightly with oil.

To Make the Topping:

  1. If using slivered almonds, process them in a food processor until finely ground; alternatively use almond meal. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to the ground almonds.
  3. Drizzle the mixture with 1/4 canola oil; stir until well incorporated. Set aside.

To Make the Filling & Finish the Dish:

  1. Combine the pears, maple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the fruit mixture with the cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger; stir until the pears are evenly coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  4. Crumble the topping over the pears.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and the topping is lightly browned.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

I made these “Art Deco” vanilla & chocolate shortbread cookies as part of my Christmas cookie assortment, but the colorful sanding sugar edge could easily be modified to suit any occasion. Pink and red would be amazing for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, in two separate batches, making the process even easier because I kept one batch to use for the vanilla stripes and the second batch for the chocolate stripes. I also used egg yolks to coat the cookies instead of a whole egg. Wonderful.

Yield: Makes 40-48 cookies

  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 egg yolk or 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • ¼ cup sanding sugar (any color)
  1. Whisk 1⅓ cups flour and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk cocoa powder, remaining 1 cup flour, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in another medium bowl. These are the bases for your chocolate and vanilla doughs.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Do in 2 separate batches if doubling the recipe, making the vanilla dough first.)
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Divide (for 1 batch) mixture between the 2 bowls of dry ingredients (about 1 cup in each). Scrape vanilla mixture back into stand mixer bowl (save the mixing bowl) and beat on low-speed just until combined. Return to reserved bowl.
  5. Repeat process with chocolate mixture.
  6. Arrange 2 large sheets (per batch) of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a work surface. Dollop one-quarter of chocolate dough in the center of each sheet and pat into rough 6×2″ rectangles. Dollop one-quarter of vanilla dough on top of each chocolate slab and pat into rectangles the same size and shape so that you have 2 layers each. Repeat entire process so you have 4 alternating layers.
  7. Tightly press stacked dough into cylinders about 1½” wide and 8″ long, using the plastic wrap or parchment to help you.
  8. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours. I chilled my dough overnight.
  9. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks).
  11. Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round.
  12. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
  13. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Note: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,162 other followers

Recipe Categories

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Top Posts & Pages

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
%d bloggers like this: