Italian Anise Easter Bread

It took me a few days to post this recipe, but I made this lovely, enriched, anise scented bread on Good Friday, in a lead-up to the Easter weekend festivities.  I found the recipe in The Bread Bible, and decided to give it a try.  The original recipe has you dividing the dough into three smaller loaves, but I decided on baking two larger loaves instead.  I also simplified several of the original recipe steps for efficiency.  The bread recipe itself is very similar to a challah.  The bread is egg rich, and you combine the ingredients together in a similar manner to how you would incorporate them together for a challah, with a few notable exceptions.  Also keep in mind, when making this recipe, that it requires an overnight or 12 hour rise.

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Italian Anise Easter Bread

Recipe makes 2 braided loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp melted Butter
  • 1 cup warm Milk
  • 1 cup Sugar + 1 pinch of Sugar
  • 2 tsp active dry Yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm Water
  • 3 cups Flour + 3 – 3 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Eggs + 1 beaten Egg for Egg Wash
  • 2 tbsp Anise Extract
  • 1 tbsp Anise Seeds

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Directions:

  1. Whisk together the butter, milk, and sugar until the sugar has melted into the warm milk and butter.
  2. Set the mixture aside, and in another bowl combine the water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar.
  3. Set the yeast aside for ~ 10 minutes, or until frothy.
  4. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine 3 cups flour with the salt and baking powder.
  5. Make a well at the center of your dry ingredients, and brake the eggs into it, followed by the anise extract, the sugar/butter mixture, and the yeast mixture.
  6. Beat the ingredients together for ~ 2 minutes.
  7. Gradually add in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, while still beating the dough, until the dough begins to pull way from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Switch to a dough hook or knead by hand for 4-5 minutes until the dough is still soft  but springy.
  9. Place the dough in a deep, greased, sealable container.
  10. Allow the dough to slowly rise over the course of 12 hours or overnight, in a cool place.
  11. Gently punch down the dough, and allow it to rise for another 1 – 2 hours.
  12. Gently tip the dough out onto a lightly flour dusted surface, and cut it in half.
  13. Divide each half into three pieces.
  14. Roll each piece out into a long stand of dough, and then braid the three strands together.
  15. Move the braided loaf onto a greased baking sheet, or fold the braid into a greased loaf pan.  If you are using a loaf pan make sure that the braid ends are folded under evenly so that the loaf rises evenly.  I wasn’t so diligent with my loaves which caused the slight divot in the middle of each loaf.
  16.  Form the second loaf.
  17. Cover the loaves with plastic, and allow them to rise for about a hour.
  18. Preheat the oven to 350 F (~177 C).
  19. Brush the loves with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with the anise seeds.
  20. Bake the loaves for ~40 minutes.
  21. Gently remove the loaves from the pans, and place them on a cooling rack to fully cool before slicing.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. julie says:

    That is absolutely gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s delightfully tasty as well!!

      Liked by 1 person

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