Italian Ricotta Easter Bread Recipe

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This Italian ricotta Easter bread is a twist on the traditional recipe with a soft and slightly sweet dough enriched with ricotta cheese. The bread is twisted into a simple braided ring and is a festive centerpiece to any Easter celebration!

Easter ricotta bread on parchment paper with a knife.

 

If you love my traditional Italian Easter bread you will love this fun twist on the classic! Italian ricotta Easter bread is made with simple ingredients and is slightly sweet but the addition of ricotta makes the bread so soft and tender!

This recipe is baked in a festive ring shape like an authentic pane di pasque but like with my sourdough Easter bread I have taken the liberty to enhance it with a few additional ingredients. 

Just like with my brioche bread bunnies, it’s an Easter morning treat you will make year after year. And if you need something savory, be sure to make my Easter cheese bread to accompany your dinner. 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • A twist on traditional Easter bread: The addition of ricotta cheese adds a wonderful unique texture to the bread that makes it soft and tender.
  • Fluffy and flavorful: This sweet bread bakes up soft and flaky with the best flavor and texture. 
  • Beautiful: This will be the first to go at your Easter celebration! It’s festive, fun and makes a great centerpiece to your holiday feast.

Italian Ricotta Easter Bread Recipe Ingredients 

  • Active dry yeast: I have not tested this recipe with Instant yeast.
  • Milk: Using 2% or whole milk will add the best rich taste to the bread. Bring milk to room temperature. 
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour or Italian 0 flour. 
  • Egg: Egg is needed to enrich the yeast dough. Bring the egg to room temperature. 
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds rich flavor. 
  • Salt: Enhances the taste of the bread. 
  • Ricotta cheese: Whole milk or full fat ricotta is best to use. If yours is watery, run it through a sieve first. 
  • Granulated sugar: Since this is a sweet Easter bread, granulated sugar is needed. 
  • Add-ins: Add up to ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips, chopped nuts or candied fruit similar to Colomba Italian Easter bread.
Ingredients for the recipe.

How to Make Italian Ricotta Easter Bread

Making the dough in the stand mixer, the dough in the bowl, before and after rising. Forming the risen dough into a twisted circle. The bread risen and before and after baked.

Make the dough in the stand mixer.
The dough in a white bowl before and after risen.
The dough formed into two logs then twisted and shaped into a circle.
The Easter bread before and after baked on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ cup milk (lukewarm)
  • 3 cups all purpose or Italian 0 flour
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or chopped nuts or candied fruit)

EXTRAS

  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons nonpareils

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In the stand mixer add the milk and sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit 10 minutes then mix together. Add the flour, start with 2¼ cups then add more if the dough is too wet, the egg, vanilla, ricotta and sugar, start to knead with the dough hook, then add the salt. Continue to knead for 7-8 minutes, add the chocolate chips and knead for 1-2 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oil bowl, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for 2-4 hours or until doubled in bulk.

  • Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and divide into two parts, roll each part into 2 ropes approximately 18 inches / 47 cm long. Join the ends and twist the ends one over the other to form a braid. Join the ends to form a circle, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise approximately 1 hour or until doubled in a warm draft free area.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C.

  • Brush the braid with milk and sprinkle with nonpareils, bake for approximately 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and baked through. Move to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

The internal temperature of the baked bread should be 88°C/190°F.
To make the dough the day before, assemble into a wreath shape, cover and allow to rest in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake the next day, remove bread from the fridge, let the bread do its final rise and then bake. If adding dyed eggs, add them right before baking the next day. 
Store leftover bread in an airtight container or large Ziploc bag at room temperature away from sunlight up to 3-5 days. You can also store the bread for up to 2 months in the freezer. Wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap then foil when storing in the freezer. Do not store the bread with the eggs if using. 
Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Substitutions and Variations

  • Lemon zest: If you love the taste of lemon, add the zest of one lemon when adding the sugar. 
  • Extract: For a slightly different taste, substitute the vanilla extract for almond extract. 
  • Dyed Easter eggs: While I didn’t include dyed eggs in this recipe, it is a common addition to pane di pasqua. Use raw eggs not hard boiled and don’t be alarmed if some of the egg dye ‘leaks’ into the bread. 
  • Smaller loaves: Instead of one large loaf you can shape this into a few smaller loaves. Baking time will decrease. 
  • Glaze: Skip adding the sprinkles before baking then after the bread has cooled, use the glaze from my Roman Easter sweet bread and then add the nonpareil sprinkles. You could use the sugar syrup glaze from this Easter sweet bread.

Expert Tips for Pane Di Pasque with Ricotta 

  • Fresh yeast: If you aren’t sure the age of your yeast, you can test it by stirring together ½ cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Add 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast. Rest for 5-10 minutes and your mixture should bubble and puff up. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead and it’s time to get new! 
  • Measuring ingredients: When baking bread, I recommend using grams versus cups for consistent results as well as a baking scale comes in handy! If measuring in cups, remember to spoon the flour and then level the flour for best results. 
  • No stand mixer: That is fine! You will need to knead the dough by hand.
  • Shaping the ropes: When rolling out the dough ropes, make sure you don’t make them too long. Aim for ropes that are about 18 inches long. If they are too small they won’t hold an egg properly and if they are too skinny, the nest will be too wide.
  • Sweeter bread: Add a powdered sugar glaze after the bread has cooled and then add the sprinkles. 
  • Leftover bread: Make this Easter bread breakfast casserole with leftover bread!
Easter bread with a slice cut on parchment paper.

Recipe FAQs

Can you make Italian Easter bread without yeast?

While this Easter bread with ricotta has only been tested with yeast, you can make this Calabrian Easter bread without yeast using only baking powder. You may also like this lemon ricotta bread that is a quick bread that uses baking powder and ricotta.

If adding eggs, should they be raw or hard-boiled eggs?

If you are adding eggs to the bread before baking, you will need to add raw eggs. If you would like them colored, you will need to color them before baking. You can use special markers to color your eggs or you can use white eggs when baking the bread and switch to hard boiled colored eggs after baking. 

Can I make this bread in advance?

Yes. Make the dough the day before, assemble into a wreath shape, cover and allow to rest in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake the next day, remove bread from the fridge, let the bread do its final rise and then bake. If adding dyed eggs, add them right before baking the next day. 

How to store and reheat leftover Italian ricotta Easter bread?

Store leftover bread in an airtight container or large Ziploc bag at room temperature away from sunlight up to 3-5 days. You can also store the bread for up to 2 months in the freezer. Wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap then foil when storing in the freezer. Do not store the bread with the eggs if using. 

Easter bread on a wire rack.

More Italian Easter Recipes

I hope you give this Ricotta Easter bread a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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