December 2009

Christmas Bread Wreath

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Hearth and home. The heart of each is in the kitchen, especially during the holiday time. Christmas Wreath Bread reflects the special qualities of the season in a dramatic centerpiece of any holiday gathering.

1 cup milk

1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter or margarine

½ cup water

5 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 packages active dry yeast

2 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

½ cup teaspoon grated orange rind

½ seedless raisins

½ cup chopped candied fruit

½ cup chopped nuts

3 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons water or milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Candied cherry halves

Combine milk, 1 cup melted butter, and ½ cup water in a small saucepan; place over low heat just until lukewarm. Combine flour, ¼ cup sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl; stir in warm milk mixture and eggs, mixing well. Add lemon and orange rind, raisins, fruit, and nuts; mix well. Cover dough, and refrigerate overnight.

Place chilled dough on a floured surface; roll into an 18 x 12-inch rectangle; spread with 3 tablespoons soft butter. Combine ½ cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over butter.

Beginning with long edge, roll up dough jellyroll fashion, pinching edges to seal; if ends are smaller than remainder of roll, trim off about 1 inch.

Place roll on a large greased cookie sheet, and shape into a ring (it should resemble a large doughnut). Brush ends of roll with water, and pinch together to seal.

Using kitchen shears make cuts in dough every inch around ring, cutting two-thirds of the way through roll at each cut. Gently turn each piece of dough on its side, slightly overlapping the previous piece.

Let rise in a warm place, uncovered, 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla, drizzle over hot ring.

Decorate with candied cherry halves. Yield: 12 to 16 servings. Freezes great.

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