Italian anise donuts: a home recipe


After posting on St. Anthony day (Jan. 17th) about our traditional St. Anthony anise donuts bracciatelli, that you can only find at the baker’s on Dec. 13th (Saint Lucy) and on Jan. 17th (Saint Anthony), I was asked by Marcy and other friends to post the recipe. But before sharing our home recipe, you may want to know what the picture above has to do with bracciatelli!

Well, St. Anthony is supposed to be the protector of animals and each year, in Pesaro, people take their pets and animals to the main square. On Jan.24th Piazza del Popolo was pacifically invaded by dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, ducks, geese, fish, guinea-pigs and, according to the press, over 100 horses. All come to receive, together with their owners, the traditional blessing by Aldo Marinelli, friar of the convent of San Giovanni. We got there a bit late, so all I could take pictures of was cute dogs all around!

My mother, who was born in the countryside little village of Ginestreto, knows very well that animals mean much to peasants. When she was a child, in times of war, the lives of many depended upon their animals’ health. Hence the traditional blessing.

And now, enough with digressions! Here comes the recipe:


Ingredients for 3 donuts

1 egg (ambient temperature), 70 gr. of sugar, 50 ml of milk (lukewarm), 50 ml of sunflower oil, 25 gr. of brewer’s yeast, 250 gr. of flour, anise seeds (as many as you like).


Stir the egg and the sugar for a couple of minutes using a whisk and let the yeast melt in the lukewarm milk (you can help the process by squeezing the yeast with a fork). Pour the milk with the melted yeast onto the mixture of egg and sugar and keep stirring. Then add sunflower oil and flour. Knead the dough until it gets soft and elastic; then place it in bowl drawing a cross on it to help it rise. Let the dough rise in a warm room for a couple of hours.

Then take the dough and knead it again adding anise seeds (a little secret is placing the anise seeds in a glass of white wine the night before starting to bake!). Make 3 parts of it and roll 3 stripes which you will shape into donuts. Place the donuts (‘bracciatelli’) on a baking tray (you can either use baking paper on the tray or you can just pour oil on it… at home we prefer baking paper so you know the dough will not stick to the tray) and let them rise again for about 40 more minutes.

Place them into the oven (180°C) for 15/20 minutes (some people like to parboil them before baking them but we don’t do it that way at home).

Well, have fun baking bracciatelli but if you want to do it like an Italian… I fear you will have to wait Dec. 13th or next year’s Jan. 17th because that is the only time of the year when we Italians, at least we Pesaresi, have them 🙂


  1. Mille grazie, Simona! I can’t wait to try your recipe. Nice to see this ceremony appreciating the animals too.

  2. Thank you for passing along your recipe! Looks like comfort food! And, giving a blessing to our livestock and dear pet friends us what God is all about because He loves us so much and wants our well being in all areas of our lives. Have a joy filled day!

  3. HI Simona!! The donuts look wonderful– and I would really really like to be at the blessing of the animals– with all that life swirling around the plaza. Sounds so colorful and exciting– what a wonderful time for the community together. thanks for the photos– Hope you have a lovely weekend ahead. any plans?? xox

    • Hi Rhonda! On Sunday we’ll take Costanza to theatre again to see Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Must get the tickets today though because the cycle of plays for children ‘Andar per Fiabe’ is always sold out 🙂 What about you? Any special plan? I wish you and your family a great weekend!!! Hugs and kisses

      • Hi Simona! That sounds totally charming. Hope she loves it! I’m up in San Francisco at my daughter’s house– they are going to remodel their home and have to pack up everything to move out! So we are packing (and playing with our new grand-girl little Lois). A sweet time for us. Enjoy the play with Costanza!! xox

        • Hi Rhonda! How did the packing go? Your daughter is very lucky to have you to help her! The play was good with a ‘surprise’ ending (the Emperor in the end gets tired of the responsability of being an Emperor and leaves before the parade that would have unmasked him). You have such a positive attitude towards life! When I had to pack recently because of the house painting I was not in a good mood at all 😉 Thank you for spreading a positive energy all around… reaching Italy as well!!!

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