This was my breakfast on our snowy Monday morning. Mmmmmm, Easter Bread.
Baking Italian Easter Bread is one of my family’s traditions, though it’s probably more accurate to call this bread Italian Anise Easter Bread. Because you use a whole container of anise. YUM! And, when you’re in charge of the baking, you’ve gotta taste test. Who else is going to tend to those poor mangled pieces that don’t slide out of the pans???
I should also say that the shop will be CLOSED on Easter Sunday! I’ve got some important egg hunting business to attend to with these guys. But, we’ll be open this Friday and Saturday so come on by!
1) This recipe was passed down from my paternal grandmother. Who was not Italian. Our Easter Bread recipe likely originated from my Dad’s Italian grandmother Elizabetta, who immigrated from southern Italy; but, my parents only remember my non-Italian great-grandmother and grandmother continuing this Italian tradition. Hmrph. Note to self: Ask Aunt Pat what’s up with that.
2) In true grandmotherly form, Mommom’s recipe doesn’t have lots of detail. Like how you’re instructed to use between 4 and 5 lbs of flour. C’mon Mommom, that’s a whole pound difference! As infuriating as it may be (and as most family recipes require) you just gotta get a feel for it. You also gotta love Mommom, look forward to the deliciousness of this bread, embrace ambiguity, and/or see your uncertainty concerning the fate of this bread as consistent with the Christian holiday for which you’re baking–will it/He rise???
3) This recipe calls for margarine. Margarine. What?! Just because Fabio uses it doesn’t mean that all Italians should! I’m staunchly anti-margarine (and probably a little anti-Fabio) and always go for the real sweet cream, unsalted butter when baking. Therefore, I substituted the real stuff where Mommmom calls for margarine.
Now, please open up your Seaville Volunteer Fire Company’s Ladies Auxilliary Cookbook from 1970-something and open to page 45. You’ll find my grandmother’s recipe for Easter Bread in the “Bread, Rolls, Pies, Pastry” section directly between Angel Biscuits by Lynn Smith and French Bread by Betty Corson.
But, you might want to thumb through the book first. . .
Because the first third of the book are stock pages from the printing company that offer some helpful insight for those instances when you’re thinking to yourself, “How am I going to feed 100+ people?” or “What should I put in this sandwich, as I’m planning to eat outdoors today?” Good stuff.
You’ll also find an old ad for Bob & Jean’s Family market, my maternal grandparents’ business which I talk a bit about here. (:
Ready now? Let’s make some Easter Bread! Full recipe with some helpful notes after the jump.
Easter Bread by Ann Bateson
12 large eggs
3/4 lb. margarine
2 c. sugar
3 packages yeast softened in 1/2 c. warm water
small package or bottle of anise seed
1-2 oz. bottle of lemon extract
4-5 lbs. flour
Update: First missing ingredient found on a handwritten note elsewhere is 3/4 – 1 c. milk. And, Mom is trying this recipe with bread flour instead of all purpose flour for the next batch for kicks. Because why not?
Soften yeast in water. Beat eggs; cream with melted margarine and sugar. Add all ingredients and mix in flour. Use flour until dough is not too sticky, like bread dough. Let rise in warm place. Punch down and kneed. Place in baking pans. Let rise until double and bake in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Candied fruit may be added to bread dough.
In addition to my note about substituting butter for margarine mentioned above, the “Let rise in warm place” is kind of a big deal. My mother taught me when making Easter Bread that it’s best to mix the dough and let it rise overnight. Growing up, I remember how she’d place the bowls covered with towels by the fireplace for the night and then punch the dough down once in the morning, section off the dough into baking pans, and then let the dough rise a second time before baking. We never added candied fruit.
All that said, you ready to bake?! Or, have you already been distracted with that Studded Peanut Butter Sandwich recipe you saw, since the combination of bacon and peanut butter for a sandwhich hadn’t previously occurred to you??? Remember, it’s only for outdoor eating! ;)
We’ll be making that oven mitt you see in an upcoming class, follow this tutorial to make those dish towels, and you can always purchase those pretty fabrics right here in the Home Made shop. Stop in or call 609.536.2940 with your order!