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Fruit-filled bread for Christmas morning.

It's shaped like a tree

IN THE MIDST OF THE Christmas morning excitement, offer this showy bread. Slice it to display the spiraled fruit filling, and accompany with thin slices of gouda cheese (buy a 2- to 3-pound wedge), or another favorite cheese such as jarlsberg or cheddar.

With a compote of fresh fruit--perhaps a mixture of sliced oranges and kiwi fruit with grapefruit wedges--hot chocolate, and coffee, you have the makings of a fine breakfast.

Christmas Tree Bread

2 packages active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm (110|degrees~) water 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, cut into chunks 1 cup milk 3 large eggs 1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or mace 1/2 teaspoon salt About 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour Fruit filling (recipe follows) 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water Glaze (recipe follows) Fresh cranberries and holly leaves, rinsed and drained dry (optional)

In a large bowl, soften yeast in a warm water, about 5 minutes. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine butter and milk; warm over medium heat just until milk is 110|degrees~; butter does not need to melt. (Or heat butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl, uncovered, in a microwave oven until milk is 110 |degrees~.)

Add milk mixture, whole eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon peel, cardamom, salt, and 3 cups flour to yeast mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until dough is stretchy and shiny, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour.

To knead with a dough hook, beat at high speed until dough pulls cleanly from sides of bowl, 5 to 8 minutes. If dough still sticks, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough pulls free.

To knead by hand, scrape dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding as little flour as possible to prevent sticking, about 10 minutes. Return dough to bowl.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; reserve 1/3 cup of it.

On a floured board, roll the large portion of dough into a 10- by 36-inch rectangle. Spread fruit filling over dough to within 1/2 inch of long sides. Roll from a long side, jelly roll-style.

On an oiled 14- by 17-inch baking sheet, zigzag dough (like stacked S's), seam down, to make a tree that's narrow at top and broad at base. Form reserved 1/3 cup dough into a ball and attach to the base of tree as the trunk.

Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 25 minutes. Brush tree with yolk mixture.

Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let bread stand on pan until warm.

(If making ahead, let bread cool, then wrap airtight. Store at room temperature up to 1 day, or freeze up to 1 month. Allow at least 4 hours to thaw at room temperature. Reheat thawed loaf, lightly covered, in a 350|degrees~ oven until warm, 15 to 20 minutes.)

Spoon glaze over warm bread; transfer to a board and garnish with cranberries and holly leaves. Slice when warm or cool. Makes 1 loaf, about 4 1/4 pounds, 12 to 16 servings.--Barbara Bochner, Ross, California

Per serving: 382 cal. (26 percent from fat); 8.6 g protein; 11 g fat (4.7 g sat.); 62 g carbo.; 151 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.

Fruit filling. Bake 3/4 cup silvered almonds in a 9-inch-wide pan in a 350|degrees~ oven until golden, about 10 minutes.

Soak 1 cup golden raisins in 3 tablespoons orange juice and 2 tablespoons brandy or vanilla until plump, about 30 minutes.

In a food processor, finely chop raisin mixture, almonds, 1 cup coarsely chopped peeled apple, 1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon grated orange peel. (Or, reserving raisin liquid, finely chop mixture with a knife, then add liquid.)

Glaze. Mix 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons orange juice until smooth.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipe
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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