Easter bread was always a family tradition that my mother made during the Easter holiday. My mother used a spice called anise seed that gave the bread a slight liquorice flavor that made the house smell like the holidays. This bread can be very versatile, you could make toast with melted butter on it or French toast with real maple syrup. This recipe is easy and very forgiving for first time bread makers.
1 package Rapid Rise (instant) yeast (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour (approximate)
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter together, just until butter melts.
In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, salt, eggs, and sugar. Add the warm (not hot - it will kill the yeast) milk and butter. Add about half the flour and the anise seed and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in the oven, but do not turn oven on. Just turn the oven light on and it will double in size, about an hour.
Punch dough down, divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 2 inch thick rope about 12 inches long and taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends.
Place on three baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again.
Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Bake 350 degrees F until golden about 20 minutes. Cool on rack. Enjoy!