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
2 small boules
1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups
5 1/2 cups
unbleached bread flour plus additional if necessary
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.