Ingredients:1 cup milk 1 cup white sugar 1 Tbsp. pure anise extract (can be found at pharmacies in the cities, or, if you cannot find that, use 2 Tbsp. of brandy) 1/2 cup pure vegetable oil (something light like sunflower-not corn or olive) 1 package active dry yeast or one block of drojdie fresh 1/2 cup tepid water 5 cups unbleached white flour 3 whole eggs 1 tsp. salt One beaten egg for glaze Mini colored sprinkle dots Some nice clear cellophane to wrap the breads in with pastel ribbons
First, scald the milk in a small pan on the stove until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the anise extract, the sugar and the oil. Let stand until lukewarm and not hot. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl.
Now add the milk mixture to the yeast and mix well. Then blend in the 3 well-beaten eggs.
Next, add in the salt. Then, mix in the flour with a wooden spoon, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. If you need to add more flour (the humidity and flour quality will determine this) then do, but sparingly. Add a bit more flour to a flat, clean surface and knead until smooth about 1o minutes. The dough should not be dry, pitted, or hard.
Time to Rest:
Let rise in an oiled bowl covered with a clean towel in a warm place until doubled in bulk. This should be at least 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.
After that, punch down the dough and cut into two pieces. Take each piece and knead out into a tube and cut into three more pieces each. Roll into tubes for making a braid by hand. You will make two large braids with this recipe. (You can make small braided rounds if you like to make the dough go farther that take about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly).
Place each on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper (the braids each should be almost the length of the pan) and let sit 30 minutes covered with a clean towel.
Bake to Perfection:
Bake in a moderate oven for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. The loaves should be a very light golden brown. The gas ovens here are tricky and super hot so watch carefully!
When you remove the breads from the oven, take them with the paper out of the pan to limit further cooking and brush each with a beaten egg a few times to get a nice golden, rich color and to soften the crust. The aroma will be wonderful!
Sprinkle on the colored dots while the egg is still wet and then let cool completely away from drafts. Wrap in cellophone and pretty Eastertime ribbons to give as gifts on Easter Day after post is broken.