My family devours this lovely, special yeast bread during the holidays. The braid gives it such a festive look. I make it year-round, eliminating the candied cherries and serving it as a breakfast bread. -Brenda Mowrey, Taylors, South Carolina
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup chopped red and green candied cherries
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Additional candied cherries, optional
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, lemon peel and cardamom. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add yeast mixture and whole egg; mix well. Stir in cherries, raisins and pecans.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour (dough will not double in size).
- Punch dough down; divide into four pieces. Roll three pieces into 15-in. ropes. Braid ropes; place on a greased baking sheet. Divide last portion of dough in half; roll each into a 15-in. rope. Twist ropes. Press an indentation down the center of braided loaf; place twisted dough in indentation. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Beat egg yolk and water; brush over loaf. Bake at 350° 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 cherries if desired. Yield: 1 loaf.
Originally published as Holiday Braid in Taste of Home December/January 1996, p39
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