The women in our family feel so blessed that my mom taught us how to make this Pane Dolce before she passed away. We do our best to carry on her loving tradition. —Kathleen Schweihs, Lockport, Illinois
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, cubed
- 1 cup raisins
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 4 eggs
- 6 teaspoons anise extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped red and green candied cherries
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 4 teaspoons milk
- In a small saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from the heat; cool to 110° to 115°.
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the butter mixture, eggs, extracts, nuts and cherries and 4 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down; divide into thirds. Shape each portion into an oval loaf; place in three greased and floured 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly. Remove from pan to wire racks to cool.
- In a small bowl, beat icing ingredients until smooth; drizzle over cooled loaves. Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).
Originally published as Italian Sweet Bread in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2003, p54
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