Sweet Bread Ring
|Raisins||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Grappa/Sweet / dry marsala||1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (Italian Brandy)|
|Active dry yeast||1 Tablespoon (1 Package)|
|Anise seeds||1 1⁄2 Tablespoon|
|Warm milk||3⁄4 Cup (12 tbs) (About 110 Degrees Fahrenheit)|
|Butter/Margarine||1⁄4 Pound (1/2 Cup, At Room Temperature)|
|Sugar||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Grated orange peel||1 Teaspoon|
|Anise extract||1⁄2 Teaspoon|
|All purpose flour||4 1⁄2 Cup (72 tbs)|
In a small bowl, combine raisins and grappa; let soak for 30 minutes.
In another small bowl, sprinkle yeast and anise seeds over milk; let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a heavy spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add 4 of the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; stir in vanilla, orange peel, anise extract, and salt.
Add yeast mixture.
Drain grappa from raisins into batter; set raisins aside.
Add 4 1/2 cups of the flour to batter; beat until moistened.
To knead by hand, scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and springy (about 15 minutes), adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking (add as little flour as possible; dough will be soft).
To knead with a dough hook, beat on high speed until dough starts to pull from sides of bowl (10 to 12 minutes).
If dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat until dough pulls free but is still soft.
Mix raisins into dough; place dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled—about 1 hour.
(Or let rise in refrigerator until next day.) Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead briefly to distribute raisins.
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 20-inch log.
Place each log on a greased large baking sheet, join ends to form a ring, and pinch to seal.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy (about 30 minutes).
Beat remaining egg to blend.
Brush lightly over dough rings.
Bake in a 350° oven until richly browned (25 to 35 minutes; if using one oven, switch positions of baking sheets after 15 minutes).
Serve bread warm or at room temperature.
If made ahead, let cool, then wrap airtight and store at room temperature for up to 1 day.