Easter is a very underrated food holiday. What red-blooded, red meat eater doesn't salivate at the site and smell of a garlic-studded roasting leg of lamb?
I've always enjoyed the simple pleasure of a properly cooked hard-boiled Easter egg, and its colorfully decorated shell. And, of course, there's the chocolate eggs, tucked down in pink plastic excelsior grass.
Remember how you would slowly lift the egg out of the basket and immediately gauge the weight. In a millisecond you knew if it was a feather-light, hollow chocolate shell, or heavy and dense - filled with solid chocolate or some other exotic goo.
If you were lucky enough to grow up in an Italian-American home, there's a good chance you got to enjoy the smell of freshly baked Easter bread, with its unmistakable anisette aroma filling the air.
The smell was heady, but so was the sight of those glossy iced braids, bejeweled with candy sprinkles (click here for the icing recipe). The sweet, spicy, eggy, buttery taste was complex, but at the same time, familiar and comforting.
This loaf of Easter bread is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and an authentic family heirloom recipe. Made the same way as my mother, and her mother, and her mother's mother made it. I hope you give this a try, and remember, it's never too late to start and old family tradition. Happy Easter! Enjoy!
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100 degrees F.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp aniseeds
1 1/2 tbsp anise extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup milk
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
*CLICK HERE for the icing recipe!