The trick to this gift bread, according to Kay Ulmer of Roscoe, South Dakota, is to wrap strips of aluminum foil around the dough before it's put into the oven. "The foil creates a pattern in the bread during baking," Kay describes. "Once the bread is cool, I remove the foil and replace it with holiday craft ribbon, then tie a bow—it's ready to go!
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup red or green candied cherries, halved, option
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil and 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbon
- Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside. In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar and salt. Add milk, eggs, 2 tablespoons butter and yeast mixture. Beat on low speed until mixed; beat on medium for 3 minutes. Stir in raisins, cherries if desired and enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- 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 until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch dough down; let rest 10 minutes. Shape into an 8-in. x 5-in. rectangle. Fold foil into a 20-in. x 1-1/2-in strip and 15-in. x 1-1/2-in. Grease strips; place on a greased baking sheet in the shape of a cross. Center dough over strips. Melt remaining butter and brush over dough. Wrap strips loosely around dough, overlapping edges 1 in. and securing with a paper clip. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Remove foil strips and replace with ribbon; tie ribbon into a bow. Yield: 1 loaf.
Originally published as Holiday Ribbon Loaf in Country Woman November/December 1996, p41
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