Taking note of a treat Michelle recently shared, the CT kitchen crafters built a bit of extra character into it...by shaping her citrusy bread recipe into this pair of country Christmas carolers! The elastic nature of the dough Michelle developed makes it ideal for forming figures, according to our home economist. More importantly, the fresh flavor will temp even the pickiest of palates. That means you can set the breads out during a holiday celebration as a festive centerpiece and serve them to guests for dessert or a snack!
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5-1/4 to 5-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- ORANGE SPREAD:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- In a bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the milk, shortening, eggs, sugar, orange juice, orange peel, salt and 3 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough 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 hour.
- SHAPING CAROLERS: Punch dough down. Set aside 1 cup; divide remaining dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 14- x 5-in. oval body. Shape a head at the top of each oval body (see Fig. 1). Place bodies on separate greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly.
- Girl caroler: Cut arms and skirt with sharp knife or kitchen scissors (see Fig. 2a). Form shoes using dough cut from skirt (Fig. 2b.). Roll six 1/8- x 8-inch strips from reserved dough. Plait three strips together, forming braid; cut in half. Place one braid on each side of head for hair.
- Use reserved dough to decorate clothing as show in photo and in Fig. 2c, including a stocking cap to place on head, covering tops of braids. With knife or scissors, cut out eyes, nose, mouth and dress decorations. Press raisins deep for eyes and buttons.
- Boy caroler: Cut arms and legs (see Fig. 3a). Spread arms and legs apart (Fig. 3b.). To add clothing and details, refer to photo and Fig. 3c. Place arms in desired positions. Forms shoes by pinching dough.
- With small pieces of reserved dough, form a stocking cap and ears; press onto head. Roll out thin strips of dough and use these to trim clothing. Roll out two slightly thicker strips and tie together to form a scarf.
- With knife or scissors, make small cuts to form decorations in pants and sleeves. Cut out eyes, nose and mouth. For eyes and buttons, press the raisins firmly into dough. Cover and set aside.
- Cover both loaves and place in a warm spot to rise until almost doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Bake at 400° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine spread ingredients and serve with warm bread. Yield: 2 loaves.
Originally published as Sweet Yeast Bread Carolers in Country Woman November/December 1997, p26
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