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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2004

Quick Greek Easter Bread

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons lightly crushed anise or fennel seeds

1 11-ounce tube refrigerated French bread dough

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 hard-cooked eggs in shell, colored red

Cook's note: To color eggs red, use food color in a jar or tube, since liquid food color will make them pink, which is fine, too. For a sweeter bread, drizzle the baked bread with an icing made by mixing 1 cup confectioners' sugar with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon anise liqueur or syrup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet. In a small dish, combine sugar, lemon zest, and anise seeds.

Place the bread dough on the prepared baking sheet and press to flatten it to about 3 inches by 14 inches. Brush liberally with about half of the melted butter. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough lengthwise into three equal strips. Braid by bringing the left strip over the center strip. Next, bring the right strip over the new center strip. Repeat braiding to the end. Shape the braid into a circle, pinching the ends together to seal. Brush the remaining melted butter. If using, push the eggs into the braid at even intervals, pushing down about 1 inch.

Bake until well risen and rich golden brown, 33 to 38 minutes. Carefully transfer to a rack to cool, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 1 braid serves 8

Source: Ready, Set, Dough! by Melanie Barnard

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