1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup cool water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange oil
1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional
Grated peel of 1 large orange
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice or milk
Sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny.
Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the wreath for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F.
Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.