On my way to 100 recipes in 100 days. Here is recipe 54.
Italian Easter Bread:
My Grandma Char was Italian. She made Italian Pizzele Cookies, Italian Easter Bread, and she was “this” close to figuring out the secret to the perfect Italian Spaghetti Sauce that my Great Grandpa made….he never shared the recipe. He used to yell at me in Italian when I misbehaved and it scared me….but if he yelled in English, I viewed him as a softy.
This bread was easy because I used my Kitchenaid Mixer. But not my Grandma. She did all the mixing and kneading by hand. It was very impressive considering her arthritis. The smell of the anise extract immediately brought back memories of being in her kitchen. Make this for your family and start a new tradition.
Italian Easter Bread (adapted from Taste of Home)
*The original recipe calls for raisins, but I used mixed dried fruit with cherries and blueberries*
2 pkgs active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
3 Tbsp warm water
1 1/3 cup warm milk
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp anise extract
6 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup raisins or dried mixed fruit
1 egg white, beaten
1 Tbsp water
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Mix well. Let set for 5 minutes.
2. Add eggs, extract, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour slowly to form a soft dough.
3. Use dough hook to knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning the dough to also grease the top. Cover with towel and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled.
4. Punch down dough and turn on to a lightly floured surface.Sprinkle with raisins or dried fruit and knead in. Divide dough in half to make 2 loaves. Cut each loaf in to 3 pieces and roll in to 12-14 inch ropes. Braid and seal edges. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
5. Whisk egg white and water, brush over dough. Bake at 325 for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.