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.