Easter Bunny Bread: An Italian Family Tradition?

Easter bunny bread recipe: sweet, lemon bread, the perfect Easter tradition!

A SWEET, WHIMSICAL, LEMONY DELIGHT

Growing up, this delicious lemon Bunny Bread was a staple at our Easter Sunday brunch (post-egg-hunting, of course). It’s a tradition in our family, one that my Italian-immigrant grandmother started. But it’s far from an Italian tradition! The recipe was borne of Grandma’s desire to fit into American culture (and probably clipped from Good Housekeeping). It still had familiarity, though, as lemon bread is also a common Italian baked good. And boy, is it delicious.

Here’s the recipe. Mangia!

Easter Bunny Bread: An Italian Tradition?

Oriental lilies for Easter Sunday brunch!

I knew I’d be spending Easter Sunday alone and wanted to do something extra special, just for myself. So I planned to attempt the traditional Bunny Bread—for the first time! I also grabbed some pretty lilies because why not.

Easter Bunny Bread ingredients

BUNNY BREAD

***Make this the night before Easter Sunday. Store in refrigerator***

THE DOUGH STARTER

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 1⁄2 cup flour

The process:

Dissolve yeast in water. Add flour. Stir, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

COMPLETING THE DOUGH

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Crisco (I subbed butter, which is an equal substitution)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • about 3 1/4 cups flour (you might end up adding more in)
  • ***also: 8 eggs for hard-boiling during the process

The process:

With mixer, beat Crisco and add sugar and salt until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Stir in yeast mixture, lemon rind and juice. Add enough flour to make dough that can be handled easily. Place in large greased bowl. Brush with melted shortening. Cover with cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk. Hard boil 8 eggs. Cool at room temperature.

SHAPING THE DOUGH

The process:

Turn dough onto floured board. Knead gently. Let rest 2 min. Divide in half. Form into 2 ropes, about 30” long. Grease 2 large cookie sheets. Cut each rope into two pieces, one approx. 10” and the other 20”. On first cookie sheet, form 20” piece into the shape of a rabbit, inserting three hard-boiled eggs in the body (using the long piece), and one in the head (using the short piece for the head and tail).

Repeat for second bunny.

Bake at 350 degrees approximately 35 minutes, until slightly brown. Let cool. Frost with confectioner’s sugar glaze, flavored with lemon flavoring. Add sprinkles while glaze is moist. Makes 2 rabbits.

A PHOTO OF HOW TO SHAPE THE BUNNY WITH THE DOUGH ROPE:

Easter BUnny Bread

I also improvised with some fresh lemon juice and zest (because I forgot to buy lemon flavoring at the store); with pink crystal sprinkles; and with some shaved unsweetened coconut because why not? It was delicious!

Easter Bunny Bread recipe

The full breakfast spread.

Easter Bunny Bread lemon

Up close and personal.

Easter Bunny Bread - dog approved!

The hardboiled eggs are definitely dog-approved!

AND TO KEEP IT REAL, HERE’S (SOME OF) THE MESS I LEFT BEHIND:

Easter Bunny Bread

Easter Bunny Bread messy apartment

Okay, so it’s not that bad. I had plans to show you how atrocious my floor was (covered in flour and dog hair) and how backed up my sink was (dishes all over the place), but I frantically cleaned between dough rising fiascos and waiting for things to boil/bake. In this case, the behind-the-scenes view isn’t that embarrassing. Boring!

Happy Easter and happy baking!

what are your easter baking traditions?

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