ITALIAN EASTER BREAD
For the Bread Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 orange, zested & juiced
1 sachet instant yeast
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Sugar Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
- Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- It should not be too hot. While the milk is warming, place sugar in a small bowl. Add the orange zest.
- With your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until completely incorporated and sugar is moistened.
- Once milk reaches the correct temperature, stir in sugar and zest mixture, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add yeast, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes until it turns frothy. Add milk and yeast mixture to the flour.
- Mix everything into a dough (it will be shaggy). Next, add melted margarine and orange juice and mix.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to lightly beat together the eggs, salt, and anise oil. Add this to the dough.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic. It will remain slightly tacky.
- Place the dough in an oiled medium bowl, turning to coat, and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.
- Allow to rise till doubled in volume for 1 hour. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide in two pieces, then divide each half into two pieces.
- Roll two dough pieces into 24-inch long ropes. Loosely twist them together. Transfer to a baking sheet.
- Bring ends of the braided loaf together to form a ring, twisting and pinching the ends together to seal.
- Repeat the same with the remaining two pieces of dough so that you have two circular, braided loaves.
- Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Prepare glaze in the meanwhile.
- For the glaze, whisk together sugar and milk, adding more if necessary to reach the desired consistency.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze onto the top and sides of the bread, and decorate with sprinkles.
- The bread is best served at room temperature. Wrap well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
- Bread keeps for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Yields 2 large loaves or 4 medium-sized loaves.
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker