Greek Christopsomo (Christmas bread)
Crush anise seeds with mortar and pestle. Combine milk, sugar, salt, butter and anise seeds and bring to a boil. Cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over water and 1 tsp. sugar and dissolve. Combine with lukewarm milk/butter mixture.
Beat eggs in mixer bowl and add the milk/yeast mixture. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sifted flour to liquid. Beat two minutes with electric mixer. Gradually add four cups flour. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. (Here I add a few more anise seeds). Place in greased bowl, cover and set in warm place until doubled.
Punch down and knead lightly onto floured board. Pinch off two small pieces of dough. Set aside. Shape the bulk of the dough into a round loaf, place pucker side down on greased baking sheet. Flatten with palm of hand.
Roll each of the small balls into 14-inch ropes, cut a 5-inch slash at the end of each. Lay ropes on loaf, crossing ropes at center of loaf. Curl slashed ends away from the center, forming a small circle. Place walnut halves in each circle and one in center of cross. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
Brush with slighted beaten egg white.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped.
Before cutting this loaf, the Greek father makes the sign of the cross with a knife and wishes everyone joy and health.