Another Italian Easter Bread
- 5 lbs of flour
- 4 cups of water
- 3 packets of rapid rise dry yeast
- 2 cups regular milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of anise seeds
- 2 cups of sugar
Note: All ingredients must be warm at room temperature.
Dissolve the yeast in the 4 cups of warm water. Scald the milk (to boiling point) remove from heat, the butter doesn’t have to melt. Set the scalded milk aside, to let it warm (don’t let it cool).
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a small pinch of sugar. Let sit 10 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl. Then add the yeast, followed by the butter, milk, sugar and anise.
Next, add the flour into the mixing bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon and work and knead until smooth and elastic (not rough or dry).
Lightly oil the pan and dough. Cover and let rise in a warm area, for 30 minutes until it doubles in size. After the first 30 minutes, punch it down a couple times and let it rise covered again, until it has doubled in size (another 30 minutes).
Lightly oil the bread pans in preparation for baking.
Next, shape it into a regular loaf or into a braided loaf (as pictured). To make a braided loaf, cut three strips, each weighing 6 ounces that are about 9 inches long and braid them.
Let it rise again for a third time for at least an hour, once it’s in the greased bread pans.
Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes. About 10 minutes before taking the bread out of the oven when it’s golden brown, brush an egg wash (1 egg with 1 tablespoon water) over the top of the bread and bake for another 10 minutes.
Makes 7-8 one pound loaves.