EASTER CROWN BREAD RING
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit
1/3 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
2 Tablespoons melted shortening
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon whole milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons multicolored sprinkles
1. Color the 5 eggs with egg dye. In a large mixing bowl, blend the white sugar, salt, and yeast well with one cup of the flour.
2. In a saucepan, combine 2/3 cup milk and butter, heating slowly until liquid is warm and butter is melted.
3. Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and beat 100-150 strokes with a wooden spoon.
4. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour to make a ball of dough that draws away from the sides of the bowl.
5. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, working in additional flour to overcome stickiness.
6. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
7. Meanwhile, combine the fruit, nuts, and anise seed.
8. Punch down the dough and return it to a lightly floured board. Knead in the fruit mixture, keeping the syrupy pieces dusted with flour until they are worked into the dough.
9. Divide the dough in half.
10. Carefully roll each piece into a 24-inch rope. The fruit and nuts will make this slightly difficult.
11. Loosely twist the two ropes together and form a ring on a greased baking sheet. Pinch the ends together well. Brush the dough with melted shortening.
12. Push aside the twist to make a place for each egg. Push eggs down carefully as far as possible. Cover the bread with wax paper and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
13. Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a twist comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
14. Once the bread is cool, drizzle the icing on top between the eggs, and decorate with colored sprinkles.
To make icing: mix together confectioners' sugar, 1 Tablespoon whole milk, and vanilla.