• Christmas aniseed bread (Rochelle Eagle)Source: Rochelle Eagle

The bread is mostly made into large loaves, but I like making individual dinner rolls for everyone around the table or serving them for afternoon tea with a good strong coffee, or even alongside a hearty wintery soup.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

This sweetened bread is usually accompanied by a rather peculiar ‘Christmas sauce’. Very traditional on the Pituïsas (Ibiza and Formentera), the bread is dipped into a blended sweet almond, beef stock, egg and pepper sauce with a few spices and herbs thrown in, including that all-important Balearic Island flavour, aniseed.

I have skipped the Christmas sauce in this recipe!


  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) full-cream (whole) milk
  • 30 g (1 oz) fresh yeast or 14 g (½ oz) dry active yeast
  • 100 g (3½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baker’s flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 100 g (3½ oz) lard or softened butter
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) anise liqueur
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp aniseed
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 15 rolls or 2 loaves

Rising time: 7 hours 35 minutes

1. Warm the milk in a saucepan to 30–35°C (85–95°F) on a kitchen thermometer. Stir the yeast into the warm milk until completely dissolved, then add 1 teaspoon of the caster sugar.

2. Place half the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk mixture and gradually incorporate the flour to form a rough dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes or until risen by one-third.

3. Whisk two of the eggs in a large heatproof bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, then whisk in the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale. Add the lard or butter, liqueur, lemon zest, cinnamon and aniseed. Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing to create a smooth, even dough.

4. Using your hands or the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, combine the two doughs to form a smooth, round ball. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and set aside to rest for 2–3 hours, until risen by one-third.

5. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

6. Portion the dough into 15 balls and transfer to the prepared trays. Set aside for 45–60 minutes in a warm, draught-free spot until risen by one-third. Alternatively, halve the dough into two balls and set aside for a further 2–3 hours, until risen by one-third. Shape the dough into long rolls or ciabatta-shaped loaves, transfer to the prepared trays and rest for a final 15 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) fan-forced.

8. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the rolls or loaves. Bake for 1 hour or until golden on top.

9. Remove from the oven, set aside on a wire rack to cool and serve with the icing sugar dusted over the top, unless serving with soup, in which case serve plain.


Recipe from Isla by Emma Warren (Smith Street Books, RRP $49.00), photography by Rochelle Eagle.