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
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
To make Easter bread, start with milk
Sugar and salt
Then, the yeast
Lemon zest for tang
Slowly add flour
Time for butter
Add remaining flour
Here's how it should look
Knead the dough
Cut the dough