Fugazza Di Pasqua (Italian Easter Bread)

3 – 3 ¼ cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 1 heaping tablespoon bottled yeast)
2/3 cup whole milk
2 T. butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract and zest of 1 lemon or 1 tsp. anise extract
5 hard-boiled colored eggs
½ cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 T. milk or cream for glaze
colored sprinkle candies

In mixing bowl of electric mixer, combine 1-cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until lukewarm. Add to dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs and 1-cup flour. Add extract of choice and another cup of flour.

With dough hook, knead dough for 5 minutes in mixer. Remove dough and place in greased bowl and turn once to grease the top of dough. Cover; place in draft free place and allow the dough to double in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 24” rope on a floured board. On a greased baking pan, place the two ropes in a circular twist to form a ring. Place the hard-boiled colored eggs tucked into dough, 1 in the center and 4 on the perimeter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a dishtowel; allow the dough to rise 30 minutes. Bake in 350o oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from oven and while warm, brush top with powdered sugar glaze and sprinkle with colored candies. Makes one 12” diameter bread.

Note: I have been making these traditional Easter breads every year for the past 30 years. They have become legend among friends and family and Good Friday would not be the same without the aroma of lemon and anise wafting through the kitchen. I usually make about 10 large breads, using lemon in half the recipes and anise in the other half. They are beautiful when baked and sprinkled with colored candies and make a spectacular presentation as an Easter gift to your neighbors, wrapped in colored cellophane and with a big purple bow.

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