Pane di Pasqua (Easter Bread)


Makes 8 loaves


  • 2 cups warm water 
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 18 teaspoons (51 grams) instant yeast 
  • 2 2/3 (528 grams) cups sugar
  • 4 (23 grams) teaspoons salt
  • 8 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 20 cups (2.4 kg) all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons black anise seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pure anise extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shortening




Step 1: Warm milk and water to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is ideal for activating the dry yeast.  
Step 2: In a 20-quart stand mixer mix together all of the ingredients except the sugar, salt, and butter.  
Step 3: Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes until some gluten is developed.  Don't worry; what starts out as a sticky mess becomes beautifully satiny as it kneads. The window pane test is a good method to check for gluten development. Take a small piece of dough the size of a walnut and pull it until you have a window. When gluten is fully developed, you will have a nice window that looks like latex.  Because you don't want a fully developed dough, the window at this point should not look like latex and will not be totally clear.
Step 4:  After some gluten is developed, add sugar and salt.  Mix on medium speed for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.  The gluten in the dough should be fully developed at this point. Do another window pane test and this time you should have a nice window that looks like latex. 
Step 5:  Add the butter and shortening on low speed and continue to mix until it's fully incorporated.
Step 6: Form the dough into a ball, place it in a greased bowl, cover the bowl, and it let rise for 90 minutes. 
Step 7: Divide the dough into eight 21-ounce pieces.  Shape them into round balls and let rest for 15 minutes. 
Step 8: Shape into braided loaves. Place the shaped dough into greased pans and egg wash immediately after shaping. Cover lightly, and let rise until it's doubled and looks very puffy. 
Step 9:  Place the pans into a preheated 325°F oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.   Remove the bread from the oven, and after 10 minutes remove it from the pan to cool completely on a rack.
Step 10: Egg wash after baking put back in the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes
Variation to the recipe:
Follow the recipe above except substitute the black anise seeds and anise flavoring for 2 tablespoons of lemon extract and decrease the amount of flour to make a very soft and sticky dough. After baked rolls are cool, ice them with powdered sugar icing - mix powdered sugar milk, and vanilla to make an icing that's has a thin consistency.