|½ cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water 30 minutes to plump
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon aniseed
1 envelope or 1tablespoon active dry yeast
1 scant teaspoon crushed saffron threads, soaked in ¼ cup warm water
5 cups bread flour plus extra for dusting work surface
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling bowl and pans
¼ cup honey
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
2 egg yolks, for egg wash
1. In a small skillet, toast 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, the coriander and aniseed over moderate heat until fragrant and lightly smoking, 3 minutes, shaking often. Transfer to a plate and cool.
2. In a small bowl, combine yeast with 2 tablespoons warm water (you can use the soaking water from the raisins). Let stand until thoroughly moistened, about 5 minutes.
3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour with olive oil, honey, eggs, saffron and its soaking liquid plus ¾ cup warm water. Mix at low speed until it forms a soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Add salt, yeast mixture and toasted seeds and mix at medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10 minutes. Mix in raisins and beat again to combine.
5. Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot or in a turned-off oven until the dough is doubled in size, about 2 hours.
6. Cover one large or two medium baking sheets with parchment paper and dust them with semolina. Set aside.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope and let rest for 10 minutes, then roll and stretch each rope into a 36-inch rope.
8. Take 1 of the ropes and twist from one end to the other.
9. Starting from one end and following the same direction as the twist, form the rope into a tight coil tucking the ends under the completed coil. Repeat with the remaining rope.
10. Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand for 1½ hours, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.
11. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash again and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame seeds.
12. Bake the loaves side-by-side in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 10 minutes longer or until the breads are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
13. Transfer the loaves to racks and let cool before serving or slicing.