Instead of adding the traditional anise oil to my Italian Easter bread, I added Fiori di Sicilia extract. This extract has a vanilla citrus flavor with a hint of floral aroma. The flavor reminds me of a creamsicle. It is a great “secret” ingredient that gives baked goods a special flavor. You can purchase Fiori di Sicilia extract from King Arthur Flour or you can substitute orange and vanilla extract if you like.
Italian Easter Bread
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
- 4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup margarine, melted
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp Fiori di Sicilia, or 1/4 tsp anise oil
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (for glaze)
- 1/4 cup whole milk (for glaze)
- Sprinkles, optional
- Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and set it aside for later.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until it is warm to the touch or until it reaches 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the milk is heating, rub the orange zest into the sugar until the sugar is a little bit moistened and the zest is fully incorporated.
- When the milk has finished heating, pour in the sugar and zest mixture and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the yeast and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir until combined. The dough will be dry and crumbly.
- Add the melted margarine and mix to combine. Add the orange juice and mix the dough again.
- Beat the eggs, salt and extract with a fork in a small bowl. Pour into the dough and mix until well combined.
- If the dough is too wet and sticky, add more flour. The dough should be somewhat sticky but it should hold together well.
- Once the dough is ready, knead it for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be soft and elastic and a little tacky to the touch.
- Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it to fully coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. This will take about an hour.
- Place the dough on a clean surface and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 24 inch long rope. Twist the two ropes and pinch the ends together. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Brush the top of the dough with melted butter, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size for 45 mins to an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while the dough is rising.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bread starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. Finish cooling the bread on a wire rack.
- Once the bread has finished cooling, prepare the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar and milk together. Pour the glaze over the bread and add the sprinkles.