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Italian Easter Bread

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1 tablespoon crushed aniseed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • About 4 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins

Topping

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup almond paste
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sliced almonds
  • Confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. Bread: Blend yeast with warm water and allow 5 minutes for it to dissolve.
  2. Add butter, sugar, milk, salt, orange rind, aniseed, eggs and egg yolk.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat at medium speed of electric mixer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup flour at low speed.
  5. Add 1 3/4 cups flour, stirring until well blended.
  6. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  7. Punch dough down, turn out onto floured surface and knead 10 minutes.
  8. Gently knead in raisins.
  9. Divide dough into 2 balls. Form two (9 inch) flattened rounds on a greased baking sheet. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until "puffy" (40 to 45 minutes). Make topping.
  10. Topping: Blend sugar, flour, butter and almond paste with electric mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Brush top of rounds with egg white and water mixture. Place topping over loaves; then sprinkle with almonds. Press lightly.
  11. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 30 minutes.
  12. Serve warm dusted with confectioners' sugar.

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