Forget the Easter Bunny and welcome the Easter Bread

It’s hard to believe that Easter is already here… and that it’s still in the 40s in North Carolina of all places. Every year it seems like March comes in like a lamb with a random warm spell and exits like a dying lion making a last-ditch effort for shivers. The upside of the enduring chill is that it’s the perfect excuse to fire up the oven.

Looks like a savory bread, tastes sweet like licorice

Looks like a savory bread, tastes sweet like licorice

Last year, I took third place in a bake-off at work and was rewarded with Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible. Of the 300 recipes, it seems that a good ten percent of them are Easter breads; who knew the varieties ranged from the familiar Hot Cross Buns to Byzantine Easter bread and Kulich (Russian coffee cake)? Ultimately, I decided on the Italian Anise Easter Bread for reasons of heritage and simplicity– the directions for the kulich and accompanying paskha looked downright scary.

A fellow baker at Southern Season suggested I use anise oil instead of the pure anise extract that the recipe included. He did warn me to use it sparingly, but I added about three-to-four drops instead of the prescribed two. The result is an intense licorice flavor, which I love, but it’s also a buzz kill for folks who don’t hunt for the black jellybeans like I do. For those people, I recommend using one teeny-tiny drop of the anise oil. I also added a cup of golden raisins.

I think that like the panettone from Christmas, the leftovers of this eggy bread will find a second life in the form of French toast. Or just toast. With blueberry jam, mhmm.

Happy weekend to all!

It's similar to braiding sticky hair

It’s similar to braiding sticky hair

A little egg wash for glaze

A little egg wash for glaze

And the whole house smells of licorice

And the whole house smells of licorice

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