It's that time of year again for me to make the traditional Italian Easter Bread! This is a delicious, sweet bread that my family loves! The recipe came from my Nana from the old country of Italy.
I love the story about what the bread represents. The bread, which is rolled into long ropes, braided, is shaped like a wreath. This is to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore on his head. Colored eggs are then nestled in, representing the new life that Christ brings to us. The bread itself, must raise, just as Christ did.
Here is the recipe if you would like to try it. I am sure your family will love it, too! Happy Easter!
Anise Seed Bread~Easter Bread
1 C. milk
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 C. sugar
1 TBLS anise seed (I usually double this as it adds more flavor)
1 TBLS Salt
4 pkgs. Dry yeast
1 C. warm water
9 C. flour (approximately—you may need more)
Colored uncooked eggs (optional)
Scald milk and add sugar, butter, salt and anise seed. Beat eggs slightly and add to the milk mixture (allow milk mixture to cool a bit first).
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add half the flour. Add milk mixture and rest of flour. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and satiny (adding more flour as needed). Place in large, greased bowl (I prefer ceramic), cover with a towel and keep in a warm place until double, about 1.5 hours (maybe less with quick rising yeast). Punch down and let dough rest for 5 minutes.
Divide dough into two or three (or even 4, depending upon how small you want your loaves). Divide each portion into three ropes and braid. Form a wreath from the braids and place on greased backing pans. If you want, add 3-4 colored eggs (they do not need to be cooked) to the wreath. Let rise again, covered with towels, for 1 hour. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, brushing with a mixture of egg yolk and 1 tbls. of milk after first 10 minutes, if desired (makes your bread shiny).
|Dominick and Mary|
Note: My mother always said the kitchen needs to be warm and wouldn’t allow anyone to use the kitchen door to the outside because it caused drafts. I also use a ceramic bowl to allow the bread to rise in and warm it a bit in a low oven. I truly believe this bread has to be made with love to come out best, so leave any ill will at the door. The recipe can also easily be halved. It also keeps well in the freezer, wrapped in foil and then a Ziploc bag.