Braided Bread is one of my favorite recipes to bake for Easter but it tastes great all year round! It’s delicious with butter and jam on top and leftovers are perfect for making french toast or bread pudding. This easy sweet braided yeast bread is soft, slightly sweet, and enriched with eggs and heavy cream for a tender crumb!
This Braided Easter Bread is soft, slightly sweet and the lemon zest gives it a little bit of citrus flavor. It tastes delicious on its own, but even better topped with butter or your favorite jam. Leftovers are great for extra indulgent bread pudding or french toast!
Just look at the golden brown crust! Doesn’t it look good? I could eat a slice right now. I have to admit I have eaten a slice while writing this post. Don’t judge me, editing the photos made me hungry.
This braided sweet bread is perfect for breakfast and brunch! It might look a bit complicated but it is actually quite easy to make.
Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Braided Easter Bread
- You can freeze this bread. See instructions below.
- Make sure the cream has the right temperature before adding the yeast. An instant-read thermometer is super helpful!
- Serve this bread with butter and jam or spread Nutella on it – so delicious!
- If you want to make a raisin bread you can add 1 cup raisins after the first rise to the dough and knead them into the dough.
- This bread is similar to Challah but Challah is usually parve which means it doesn’t contain dairy and is made with water instead of dairy products like milk, butter or cream. Brioche and other enriched European breads like this Easter bread contain butter and milk or cream. But Challah becomes quite similar when you use a less traditional recipe with milk in it.
Can Braided Bread be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze this Easter Bread. You can freeze the whole loaf and then defrost it overnight at room temperature. Sometimes I also slice the bread, put it into zip lock bags and freeze it. When I want a slice, I just put it in the toaster and it tastes like fresh! The yeast loaf can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.
When to eat Easter Bread
Easter Bread is traditionally eaten during the weeks before Easter, but it tastes great all year round. In Germany “Osterbrot” is often served for breakfast or tea. Leftovers are perfect to use for french toast.
Why won’t my yeast bread rise?
There are many reasons why yeasted doughs don’t rise: The yeast you’re using is too old, the liquid used in the dough is too hot, or the place where you put the dough to rise is too cold. Always check the “Best before date” of your yeast before using it, make sure the liquid you add is only lukewarm (below 120°F, somewhere between 95°F and 115°F is fine), and put the bowl somewhere cozy to let the dough rise (Somewhere between 75°F and 85°F is ideal).
Looking for more Yeast Dough Recipes? Check out these:
Tools used for making this Braided Bread Recipe:
Yeast: This is my favorite yeast!
Stand Mixer: My most used kitchen appliance and it’s so pretty it can sit on the counter as decoration! Kneading dough is so much easier with it.
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- 1 cup heavy cream, (reserve 2 Tbsp for brushing)
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3 large eggs
- Heat up the heavy cream until lukewarm, be careful if the cream is too hot the yeast won't rise.
- Pour lukewarm cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast and 1 tsp sugar on top of the milk. Give it a stir with a spoon and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should be frothy after 5 minutes. If that isn't the case, start over with new yeast.
- With the stand mixer running on low speed, add flour, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, 2 eggs and 1 egg white. Save the egg yolk for brushing the bread before baking.
- Knead for 5 minutes until a soft and only slightly sticky dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little bit more flour, start with 1 Tbsp.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Turn the dough to coat all sides and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shortly knead the dough to release the air bubbles. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and shape each of them into a 12-inch long rope. Grease a baking pan (or line it with parchment paper) and place the ropes side by side.
- Punch the upper ends of the ropes together. You have rope 1,2,3 and 4. We start with rope 4 and place it over rope 3, under rope 2 and over rope 1. Now you repeat this with rope 3: Over rope 2, under rope 1 and over rope 4. Repeat this process until all the ropes are braided together. Punch the ends of the bread together.
- Cover the bread with cling film and let it rise in a warm environment while you preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Combine the remaining egg yolk and 2 tbsp heavy cream and brush the bread with it. Bake it for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack.
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Stephanie P. says
Made this bread for Easter breakfast and added raisins to the dough as well. It came out so lovely! Very delicious and not overly sweet! Love the extra touch of lemon zest to it too! Definitely will be making this for my family again and I am going to try turning it into French toast with the loaf I have in my freezer!
Can the first proof be over night in the fridge?
Margaret Vermesi says
Hi, I made your Braided Bread, much like Challah, and it turned out beautifully. My one year and 4 year old grandchildren adored it as did my son and daughter-in-law. I was wondering if I substituted the heavy cream with either water or skim milk, if that would change the consistency of the bread. Tks.
This was so delicious! I baked it for 30 minutes and it came out wonderful!! Thank you for the recipe!!
How is this different from Challah?
Hi Jenny, thank you for your question! Challah is usually parve which means it doesn’t contain dairy and is made with water instead of dairy products like milk or cream. Brioche and other enriched European Breads like mine contain butter and milk or cream. But Challah becomes quite similar when you use a less traditional recipe with milk in it.