From Hot Cross Buns to Braided Loaves: 5 Easter Breads to Bake This Holiday

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Today is the first day of spring, which means Easter isn't far behind. Both the season and the holiday celebrate renewal. So it's fitting that one of the symbols of the Easter holiday is bread, for the fact that it rises from the use of yeast. Sweet yeast breads are a tradition around Easter time and can take the form of buns, rolls and even braided loaves studded with multicolored Easter eggs. These beautiful baked goods are great for breakfast, brunch or an after-meal sweet treat with coffee or tea.

You may think that baking bread is hard. Well, yes, it does take some time to knead the dough and then there's the period when you're waiting for it to rise, but, the end result is worth the effort. Plus if you're only baking bread once every year, then why not just jump in and do it? Food Network has five great Easter bread recipes that are sure to make your holiday that much more special.

Easter Bread Recipes
Hot Cross Buns (pictured above)

These buns are packed with dark and golden raisins and include nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger for a spicy flavor and fragrant aroma. Once the buns are out of the oven and are cool to the touch, ice them in a cross shape.

A filling of almond paste and chopped chocolate winds its way through this Polish babka. Achieve the swirled effect by spreading the dough with the filling, rolling it up and then twisting it before dropping it into a pan.

Many nations traditionally make braided breads for Easter, but the Greeks are famous for their round braided loaves studded with crimson colored Easter eggs. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair from ground fennel seed and almond extract.

This Portuguese Easter bread recipe uses lard instead of butter and it's flavored with lemon zest. If you like, decorate the bread dough with eggs during the final rising.

These Russian Easter loaves are filled with candied fruit, raisins and almonds. Vanilla beans and lemon zest also heighten the flavor. If you don't have loaf pans, you can bake the breads in greased and papered coffee cans.

For more holiday recipes, visit Food Network's Easter Central . What's your favorite Easter bread recipe?

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