Easter Bread

It has been a custom to make Easter bread in my family ever since I can remember.  My Nunny made it every year right before Easter, and we enjoyed every last bite of it.  It is tradition to use Anise seed for it's unique flavor.  If you've never had Anise, it takes like black licorice, since I don't like black licorice, I leave it out in mine. Either way it is delicious.

Not until I made it this year, did I realize how time consuming and special this bread truly is.  My little Nunny made this every year without help most years.  My mom and aunts did help occasionally, but usually she had it done before we even knew she was going to make it.  This bread keeps very well and can be frozen.

This recipe is a combination of several years of making the bread.  Most of the time it is made to your taste and is adjusted every year.  I wish I could show you my Nunny's recipe, but I could barely understand it from all the years of notes on it.  Every year, my Nunny would write what she did differently.  Add a little more of this, add a little less of that.  I hope you enjoy and make this one of your Easter traditions.

1 1/2 cakes of yeast (bought from a bakery)
5 pounds of flour (extra to add if needed so it doesn't stick to sides)
2 cups sugar
6 eggs beaten
2 tsp. salt
4 cups warm milk
6 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp anise seeds
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp of yellow food coloring

Place yeast, warm water and 1 tbsp of sugar in bowl to dissolve.
Beat eggs, butter, sugar and salt in mixer.
 Add food coloring to milk. Add luke warm milk.
Add 1/2 cup luke warm water to yeast to dissolve then add it to the milk.
Place flour, salt and anise (if using) in mixer and mix well.  Make a hole in the flour and add the liquid mixture and the beaten eggs in the hole.
Before you start kneading, be sure to make the sign of the cross over the ingredients.  Knead the ingredients until it pulls away from the mixing bowl.  Oil top of dough, cover with clean towel, and set in a warm place.  You may put it on top of a stove set to 200 degrees.
When the dough has doubled in size, knead down and let rise again.
Start getting your pans ready depending on what you want.  Loaves are easy and delicious.  They are much easier to slice and toast.
You may also use cookie sheets or round pans.  It is a tradition to braid your bread, but it does make it more difficult to toast.  We also make little knots, which I love, they are small and the kids love them also.
Once it has risen, weight out 1# dough to each bread.  It makes it more consistent.
Another tradition for the braided loaves is to put a raw egg in it, and let it cook while baking.
Preheated oven should be 350 degrees.
The braids and knots take about 20 mins, where the loaves take 30.  It is important to watch them, since all ovens are different, it may take more or less time.

Here are pictures I took from the other day.  It took a while to make, but this is tradition, and it tastes amazing!  I decided if my little Nunny could do it, I could too.  She was an amazing woman, and it is a tradition that I want to pass down to my children.  I hope you enjoy it too!
 My amazing little Nunny

My little guys love to help!

This is only half the batch
My loaf got left in the oven a little long, it should be the light color like the braids

 The braided loaf with the egg.
You could use a colored egg if desired


Mo 'Betta said...

gorgeous bread!

Kristina said...

Ummm...YUM! These look great! I shall try this recipe!! Thanks!!

Rachel said...

That looks great! Your helpers are adorable by the way!! :)


Melissa {TheScarletCardinal} said...

Just hopped over from FTLOB and this really made me smile. My family is Italian and every year at Easter my dad would go to the bakery to buy this bread. The smell and taste bring back such wonderful memories. Thank you so much for sharing!

Alida said...

I love Easter bread... I may have to give yours a try

Kristen said...

Yum! I just made some with mom and Aunt Sandee this weekend. This is actually the 3rd batch they've made. Easter bread with basket cheese and hot sopressata is my favorite lunch/dinner (sometimes even breakfast) during Easter. :) When/if I ever end up moving your way, we should make it together!