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Christmas Bread

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Ingredients:

2 packages dry yeast
cup warm water
cup milk at room temperature
cup granulated sugar
teaspoon salt
cup unsalted butter (softened)
3 large eggs (lightly beaten, 1 egg white in reserve)
1 cup currants or raisins (or a mixture of both)
cup citron (diced)
cup orange peel (or candied fruit; diced)
4 cups all-purpose flour
cup blanched almonds (chopped)
2 teaspoon cinnamon
cup powdered sugar

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl stir yeast into warm water and dissolve. Add the milk, sugar, salt, butter and 2 whole eggs plus the yolk from a third egg and blend well. In a separate bowl, dust the raisins, currants, citron and orange peel or candied fruit with a little flour and cinnamon. Add the almonds to the fruit mixture. Add half of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir until smooth. Cover and let raise in a warm place until doubled, at least 1 hour.

Add the remaining flour and kneed the dough until smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes. Knead in the fruits and almonds. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning the dough so it is completely coated and covered. Let dough raise for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal portions and press each ball into a large, flat circle. Fold each circle over so the top half is 1 inch from the edge of the bottom half, forming a split-loaf shape.

Place loaves on a greased baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let raise again until doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes. Brush tops with remaining egg white for even browning. Bake in a pre-heated 375 oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle the top generously with powdered sugar before serving sliced.

Makes 2 Loaves

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