By Vittoria Woodill

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This weekend will be a very unusual Easter celebration for many people as they’re separated from family and relatives by the coronavirus pandemic. But many still plan to enjoy family traditions, virtually.

This weekend marks my absolute favorite holiday. Why? Well, Easter is the time we celebrate family and a lot of our Italian food traditions.

Every year, my cousins and my aunts and uncles, we get together and we bake. And we wait until Sunday to enjoy all of the hard work that we put in on Friday. This year, we’re not doing baking and times are different.

But I still wanted to get in the kitchen and celebrate one of our food traditions and it’s something my mom is famous for and that’s her Easter bread. So, here is my mom’s Easter bread.

Let’s go into the kitchen and get started.

Mom’s Easter Bread

1 package of Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup shortening, margarine, or butter softened
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups to 4 cups of all-purpose flour
Cream Cheese Filling
1 package of Cream Cheese
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar

For Bread:

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg and two cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about five minutes). Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled — about an hour and a half.

*Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.

Punch down dough. Cut in half and roll out two pieces to fill with cheese mixture. Roll dough into ropes and twist the ropes then shape into a circle.

*Optional, place dyed eggs into dough wreath for decoration.

Let dough rise again until doubled.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until a sharp knife or wooden pick comes out clean.

*If using self-rising flour, omit salt.

Do ahead tip: after kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in a greased bowl no longer than four days.

So there you have it. Happy Easter!

By the way, this isn’t the only thing I’ve been baking — I’m pregnant! The Easter Bunny came early.

Vittoria Woodill