- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two 1/4-ounce sachets)
- 8 cups plain bread flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 cups whole milk, warmed
- 2 teaspoons ground anise seeds
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil, for bowl
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon whole milk, for egg wash
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Sprinkle yeast, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar over milk in a medium bowl. Cover, and let stand for 1 hour.
Combine remaining 7 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar, the anise seeds, salt and orange zest, . Make a well in center of mixture, and add milk mixture, melted butter, and eggs. Mix together ingredients using your hands. Once combined, turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth and supple, about 15 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Butter two pans. Knead down the dough, divide in half, and place into a prepared pan. Cover with a cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. With a small amount, make Crosses for the bread and place on the top of the loaf.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush egg wash over tops of loaves, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pans, and remove bread. Let cool completely on wire rack.