Easter bread is a traditional item on Italian Easter tables all over the world. It also has a rich history in NYC, with most bakeries and many Italian restaurants making it for the holiday.

To see how the sweet bread gets made, we headed to one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city, Patsy's.

Run by the Scognamillo family since opening in 1944, Chef Sal Scognamillo is the third generation in his family to work the line in the kitchen. The day we showed up was his birthday, and Deana Martin (daughter of Dean) called to sing him her best wishes for his 54th year. For a restaurant lined in framed photos autographed by famous actors and musicians, the call was somehow not surprising.

In the lead up to Easter on March 27, Scognamillo makes four or five Easter breads each day. He gives slices away to all the guests in the restaurant. If you want to order one, just call, he said. The price? $20.

The recipe is taken from the cookbook "Patsy's Italian Family Cookbook."

Easter bread with colored eggs

Makes 1 loaf, about 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon instant (also called bread-machine) yeast

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons anise seeds or drizzle anise extract

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

4 colored, hard-boiled eggs

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons nonpareils

This is the one and only Patsy's Italian Restaurant

Patsy's Italian Restaurant (236 W. 56th St.) has
Patsy's Italian Restaurant (236 W. 56th St.) has been owned and run by the Scognamillo Family since 1944. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

To make Easter bread, start with milk

Add whole milk to the mixing bowl fitted
Add whole milk to the mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment to begin making the sweet dough. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Sugar and salt

After you pour the milk, add sugar and
After you pour the milk, add sugar and salt to the mix. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

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Next: eggs

As the milk and sugar are mixing, add
As the milk and sugar are mixing, add 2 large eggs. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Then, the yeast

Combine the instant yeast with a little water
Combine the instant yeast with a little water to make a liquid consistency and then add that to the mixer with the milk, sugar and eggs. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

Lemon zest for tang

Zest 1 lemon and add into the mixing
Zest 1 lemon and add into the mixing bowl as the sweet dough continues to form. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

Anise flavoring

Chef Scognamillo eyeballs how much anise extract to
Chef Scognamillo eyeballs how much anise extract to add to the mixer. Rule of thumb: If using extract instead of seeds, drizzle a thin stream into the bowl for about 2 seconds. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

Slowly add flour

Add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the
Add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the bowl and allow to mix on low speed until combined and thick. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

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Time for butter

Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time,
Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting for each to be absorbed before adding another. Make sure butter is soft but not melted. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

Add remaining flour

The tricky thing with bread, Scognamillo explained, is
The tricky thing with bread, Scognamillo explained, is that it can easily be messed up. How? By adding too much flour! When adding the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour, add a little at a time to the mixer until the dough is soft and leaves the bowl clean with nothing sticking to its sides. This happens quickly. You may not use all of the flour. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Here's how it should look

Nothing on the sides!
Nothing on the sides! (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Knead the dough

There are two ways to accomplish the next
There are two ways to accomplish the next step of kneading the dough. You could either use a dough hook attachment on your mixer, or knead it by hand. One way is easier than the other, but the choice is yours. Scognamillo worked the dough by hand when we visited, but when making more than one bread, he'll use the mixer.

If using the hook, mix on medium-low speed occasionally turning off and pulling the dough off the hook for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth, shiny and slightly sticky.

If making the dough by hand, put flour on a work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth, supple and slightly sticky or about 10 minutes.

Next, lightly butter a bowl, add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour. It should double in volume.

(Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Cut the dough

Take the dough from the bowl, put it
Take the dough from the bowl, put it on a floured surface and cut into two (or three) pieces. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

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Roll it out!

Roll each piece of dough under your palms
Roll each piece of dough under your palms into two 22-inch ropes. They will be shorter if rolling three pieces. The ropes should taper out at each end. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Braid

Line the ropes up next to each other
Line the ropes up next to each other and braid, pinching the ends together. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Getting close...

Place the braided bread onto a baking sheet

Place the braided bread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for another hour or so. It should continue to rise.

(Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Dye the eggs

Each hard-boiled egg should sit in a food-coloring

Each hard-boiled egg should sit in a food-coloring mixture (food coloring, water, a touch of white vinegar) for about 15 minutes.

(Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Make the glaze

Mix egg and milk for the egg glaze.
Mix egg and milk for the egg glaze. (Credit: Diana Colapietro )

Brush it on

The egg glaze will give the bread a
The egg glaze will give the bread a sheen and also a pleasantly light crust. It is also a bit sticky, which allows the nonpareils to stick to it. Add those now. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Eggstravaganza

Distribute the eggs into the dough, nestling them

Distribute the eggs into the dough, nestling them in carefully.

(Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Bake at 350 degrees

The bread will be done in about 30
The bread will be done in about 30 minutes. It should be golden brown. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)

Bread comes out

And it's time to eat! Let bread cool
And it's time to eat! Let bread cool completely before slicing. (Credit: Diana Colapietro)