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Author Notes: Anise bread is a tradition around Easter and the beginning of spring in my family. But when making it in a rush one night, I started the recipe before realizing I had no milk, butter, or eggs. So I went vegan, with a olive oil and banana substitution which actually produced two small loaves instead of one, and the bread tasted even better than my family's recipe. You can also substitute 2 teaspoons of anise extract in place of fennel seeds. —ESB
Makes 2 small boules
- one 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 5 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour plus additional if necessary
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 very ripe, mushy banana
- Add warm water to small bowl and sprinkle package of yeast into it. Let sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
- In a small skillet, toast fennel seeds over medium to med-high heat, careful not to burn seeds. Set aside after toasting.
- In a large bowl sift together all the flour, salt, and pepper.
- In a small bowl add banana (best sliced), vanilla extract, orange juice, and olive oil. Stir well until all are incorporated.
- Add yeast mixture and banana mixture to flour. Using a wooden spoon and then your hands, blend well until dough ball is formed. Add toasted fennel seeds and knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if dough gets too sticky. Dough is complete when it does not stick to the sides of the bowl.
- Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise for 75 minutes or until double in size.
- Preheat oven to 500° F and lightly oil two shallow round baking pans or one baking sheet. (spray canola oil is fine)
- Punch dough down, divide in half and hand form 2 small boules. Bake for 10 minutes. Then lower oven to 350° F for an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Bread should be golden in color.
- Bread is best toasted. Enjoy.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best (Savory) Yeast Bread
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