Italian Easter Bread Ring
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit
1/3 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
2 tablespoons melted shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons multicolored sprinkles (jimmies)
- Color the 5 eggs with egg dye. In a large mixing bowl, blend the white sugar, salt, and yeast well with 1 cup of the flour.
- In a saucepan, combine 2/3 cup milk and butter, heating slowly until liquid is warm and butter is melted. Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and beat 125 strokes with a wooden spoon. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour to make a ball of dough that draws away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, working in additional flour to overcome stickiness. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, combine the fruit, nuts, and anise seed.
- Punch down the dough and return it to a lightly floured board. Knead in the fruit mixture, keeping the syrupy pieces dusted with flour until they are worked into the dough. Divide the dough in half.
- Carefully roll each piece into a 24-inch rope
-the fruit and nuts will make this slightly difficult. Loosely twist the two ropes together and form a ring on a greased baking sheet. Pinch the ends together well. Brush the dough with melted shortening. Push aside the twist to make a place for each egg. Push eggs down carefully as far as possible. Cover the bread with wax paper and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a twist comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- Once the bread is cool, drizzle the icing on top between the eggs, and decorate with colored sprinkles. To make icing: mix together confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon whole milk, and vanilla.