Sweet Italian Holiday Bread is a mild sweet bread with a crunchy crust. The orange zest gives this bread a slight citrus flavor. This flavors of this bread are mild, which could lend itself to this bread being described as plain.
This bread is good served as a sweet breakfast treat, a snack or as a dessert. This bread is also good served as part of a brunch buffet. I like a slice of the Sweet Italian Holiday Bread served with a hot cup of tea. If you prefer coffee, have a slice of this bread with your favorite coffee.
This texture of this bread reminds me little bit of the texture of a coffee cake. Not quite as light as a coffee cake, but close. The Sweet Italian Holiday Bread differs from a coffee cake because coffee cakes are usually topped with a sugar-cinnamon mixture and sometimes nuts while this bread is sprinkled with just sugar.
I found this recipe on the Taste of Home site. The recipe submitter stated that this recipe, an authentic ciambellotto, was from her great-grandmother who baked this bread in Italy. I love recipes that are passed down through the generations.
The original recipe calls for large eggs and 2% milk. I use jumbo eggs and whole milk. The version of the recipe below reflects jumbo eggs and milk.
The batter for this bread is thick. Much thicker than batter for quick breads I have made. After making the batter, place the batter on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat then shape it into a round loaf with your hands.
Next, sprinkle the top of the loaf with coarse sugar. I didn't have any coarse sugar on hand, so I used granulated sugar. The crust of the loaf didn't have the sugar visible on top like other pictures I have seen, but, the crust was still crunchy and mildly sweet. I like a crunchy crust on homemade breads.
In my experience, during baking, the bread will rise a little and spread a bit, but it does keep its shape. After the bread is done baking, place it on a cooling rack to cool before slicing and serving.
I hope you enjoy the Sweet Italian Holiday Bread.
Sweet Italian Holiday Bread
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 jumbo eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 jumbo egg yolk, beaten for brushing the top of the loaf
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar for sprinkling on top of the loaf
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Lightly spray a baking sheet or line the baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, orange zest and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and oil until combined.
- Stir the egg mixture into to the flour mixture until just moistened.
- Shape the dough into a 6-inch round loaf then place it on the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg yolk.
- Sprinkle the coarse sugar on top of the loaf.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too much, lightly cover with foil.
- Remove the loaf from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Serve warm.