How to Make Festive Breads for The Holidays
Nothing says Happy Holidays than giving a warm homemade bread as a gift to your friends and relatives. Start a holiday bread giving tradition at your home.
Among the joys of Christmas baking are the rich breads fragrant with spices and studded with bright bits of candied fruit or plump raisins. Before baking, the dough is braided or formed into special shapes befitting the season. While still warm from the oven, frosting is drizzled over the golden brown crust. Nuts, cherries, or colored sugars are used as trimmings.
Here is the recipe for a delicious festive holiday bread that would make a wonderful addition to your holiday meal.
Lucia Braid Bread Recipe
2 packages active dry yeast
5 to 5 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/3 cups milk
½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Confectioners sugar glaze
Red and green candied cherries
In a large mixer bowl combine the yeast, 3 cups of the flour, and the cardamom. Heat the milk, the sugar, the shortening, and the salt until warm. Stir the mixture to melt the shortening. Add this to the dry mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and beat on low speed for half minute, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Beat this mixture for three minutes on high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the flour to make a soft dough.
Next place the mixture on a floured surface and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and has a slight elasticity. The place this in a lightly greased container. Cover the dough mixture and let it rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled. Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half and cover each half and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide each half of the dough into four parts.
With three parts of the dough, roll into three 20-inch strands and braid them together. Carefully place the braid around a greased, 6-ounce juice can standing upright on a lightly greased baking sheet. Seal the edges of the dough together to form a continuous braid. Divide the 4th part of the dough in half. Shape the dough into two 20-inch strands and twist them together. Place this on top of the large braid. Make a second coffee cake with the remaining pieces.
Let the braid rise in a warm place until they are doubled. Bake the bread at 350 degrees until it becomes golden brown. Remove the braid from the juice can.
While the breads are still warm, brush each one with your favorite glaze. Decorate the tops with nuts and candied cherries.
Giving away holiday breads is part of the fun of baking. A piece of sturdy cardboard can be used under the bread to sturdy it when carrying it. A new bread board or baking sheet tucked under the loaf also can be a part of the gift. Clear plastic wrap used as a covering material serves two purposes. It lets the gaily decorated loaf show through as it protects the bread.
What a wonderful surprise this festive holiday bread would make.