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, shortening, 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. 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.




Where can I purchase the authentic black anise seeds. Thanks in advance.

Hi Elizabeth, That's a great question. I have never been able to find them in the US. I've only found them when visiting relatives in Calabria. As always, I'll keep my eyes and ears open and if I find a source in e US I will let you know. Cheryl

Thank you, I'm going to try brown seeds and use extract. The best I can do until I find some one who has relatives who can get some. That's the way my mom got it long ago. All those wonderful Italian women have long went to a "better place".

I have my Great Grandmother's recipe. It calls for scalded milk. I'm thinking it was unpasteurized back then (0vere 100 years old). I'm the only one in the family that still makes it. I found some anise oil in an Italian market. I bought 7 bottles of it. It's more than 20 years old and still wonderful. I use that instead of extract, but it was hit and miss with the amount due to the intensity of the oil. I finally settled on a little less than a capful, but my favorite part is the seeds. is so much better a few days old. Love this a little stale.

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