I'm not sure when my mother started making this bread on Easter, nor do I know where she came across the recipe. I only know that when I think of Easter morning, it evokes the wonderful taste combination of hard boiled eggs and big, thick slabs of this fantastic, subtly sweet bread with lots and lots of butter. This is actually a variation of Christopsomo, which is a bread traditionally served on Christmas in the Greek Orthodox tradition, but I'm sharing it here with you today in case you are looking for a little something to go with your Easter eggs this weekend.
The bread is made with just a touch of anise. I'll say up front that I do not particularly like the taste of anise (and I absolutely despise the taste of licorice), but it adds a complexity to this dense loaf that works so perfectly.
Greek Easter Bread
2 packages yeast, active dry
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1 cup butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
4 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. crushed anise seed
1 tsp. salt
7 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white, slightly beaten
- Blend yeast with warm water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk, butter, eggs, sugar, anise, and salt. Blend thoroughly. Gradually beat in the flour.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a large greased bowl, turning so surface is coated. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 2 hours or until almost doubled in size.
- Punch dough down and knead on an unfloured surface. Divide into two balls and knead until smooth. Place on a greased baking sheet and flatten to form two discs. Cover and set in a warm place for about 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush both loaves with beaten egg white. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
- To reheat, wrap bread in foil and place in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.