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Braided Holiday Bread

Ingredients

Bread:

  • 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbsp. water

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • additional dried fruits, optional

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and lemon peel. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add yeast mixture and whole egg; mix well. Stir in fruits and pecans. Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth & elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough will not double in size.
  2. Punch down dough; divide into four pieces. Roll three pieces into 15-inch ropes. Braid ropes; place on a greased baking sheet. Divide last portion of dough in half; roll each into a 15-inch rope. Twist ropes. Press an indentation down into the center of braided loaf; place twisted dough in indentation. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Beat egg yolk and water; brush over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with foil; bake 20-25 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack. combine sugar and milk; drizzle over loaf. Decorate with dried fruits if desired.