by Antonetta Scalzi
- 2 cups of butter softened, room temperature
- 2½ cups of sugar
- 1 dozen eggs room temp
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of anise oil (more or less to taste) not anise extract.
- 17 cups of flour (about 1 5pound bag)
- 5 packets of yeast (one strip of 3 plus 2 from another strip of 3)
- 2 cups of warm water
Put the yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let proof. Cream the butter and sugar
Add eggs 2 at a time and beat (with electric mixer) a little in between.
Add anise, beat
Add the yeast, beat
Add the flour one cup at a time and stir/beat a little after each cup.
It gets to be too much for an electric mixer then I start to stir it by hand
Knead it on a lightly floured surface until elastic.
Put it in a greased bowl and cover and let rise until doubled. Since there is so much I split the dough in two and put in two bowls.
Once it's risen punch down and from here you can shape anyway you want.
I cut the dough in 1 pound balls, cut the balls in thirds, roll them out until they're about 20 inches in length and then braid. Bring the ends around to meet to form a wreath.
Once they've risen a second time you can put a raw dyed egg in the center just before putting into the oven, it will bake and be like a hard boiled egg.
You can also make a 2 or 3 pound wreath and put 3 dyed eggs in the braid.
Put them on greased or parchment covered baking sheets, cover and let rise again until about an hour or so until doubled.
Optional is to take 2 egg yolks beaten and add 3 Tbs of warm milk and brush the loaves just before putting into the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until golden. Since it's eggs and sugar it browns more than regular bread.
If your limited on baking sheets for this much dough you can let them rise on parchment paper for the second rise then transfer them to a baking sheet. When I make the 1 pound size I can get two on a cookie sheet.
The loaves make nice gifts or freeze well.