This holiday bread is easy to make, although the braiding takes a bit of practice. I serve it for evening coffees, then use the rest toasted for breakfast. I also give it as gifts—it's delicious with cheese—and it always goes over big at Christmas bake sales. My husband's a dairy farmer. I work as a bank teller and stenographer. At home, I enjoy cooking and crafts.
- 5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup finely chopped mixed candied fruit
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablepoon water
- In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour and yeast. In a saucepan, heat milk, sugar, butter and salt to 120°-130°; add to flour mixture. Add egg. Beat on low speed with electric mixture for 30 seconds; increase speed to medium and continue beating for 3 minutes. Stir in raisins, candied fruit, nuts an enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Divide dough in thirds, then divide each into thirds again. Roll each piece into a 15-in. rope. Place 3 ropes 1 in. apart on greased baking sheet. Begin braiding loosely in the middle and work toward the ends. Pinch ends together and tuck under. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Combine egg yolk and water; brush over braids. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Cool on wire racks. Yield: 3 breads.
Originally published as Christmas Braid in Country Woman November/December 1990, p31
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