Italian Easter Bread

Italian Easter Bread 
1 cup milk
2 1/4 ounce packets active dry yeast
1tsp vanilla
1 tsp anise
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter cut into 1 inch pieces

Egg wash
1 egg
1 tbs water

In a small saucepan heat the milk over medium to 110 F. Add the yeast to a small bowl with the warm milk and whisk it  with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).

Whisk in the eggs, anise and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the rest of the sugar, flour, lemon zest, and salt.

Pour the flour mixture in the bowl of a mixer. With dough hook attached and mixer on medium speed, slowly add the milk .

Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and let it get gently incorporated into the dough. 

Be sure to mix well when all the butter is added (about 3-5 minutes). Adding more flour until your dough is stiff  not sticky. 

Put a little flour on the counter and scrape the dough out of mixer. Knead the dough a little and shape the dough into a ball.

Oil a large glass bowl and place the dough in there too rest. Rub a little oil on top of the dough and cover for about 1-1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough.

Divide the dough into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a strip about 15" long. Pinch the ends and start the can leave as a long braid or pinch ends together to form a wreath.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.

When ready to bake brush dough with egg wash and add sprinkles. Place on a parchment lined baked pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden in color.  Let cool on rack before slicing.