Italian Easter Bread

This festive sweet bread is a family favorite on Easter morning.

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 tablespoon crushed aniseed
4 eggs
1 egg yolks
About 4 3/4 cups flour
1 cup raisins

Blend yeast with warm water and allow 5 minutes for it to dissolve. Add butter, sugar, milk, salt, orange rind, anise seed, eggs and egg yolk. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat at medium speed of electric mixer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup flour at low speed. Add 1 3/4 cups flour, stirring until well blended. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down, turn out onto floured surface and knead 10 minutes. Gently knead in raisins. Divide dough into 2 balls. Form two (9 inch) flattened rounds on a greased baking sheet. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until "puffy" (40 to 45 minutes). Make topping.

Topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup almond paste
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
3/4 to 1 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners? sugar

Blend sugar, flour, butter and almond paste with electric mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Brush top of rounds with egg white and water mixture. Place topping over loaves; then sprinkle with almonds. Press lightly. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven about 30 minutes.

Serve warm dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

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