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Fruited Bread


This is a favorite of ours, especially around holidays.  If you switch cherries in place of the apricots, it makes it look like a festive Christmas bread.  It is meant to be eaten as a pastry breakfast bread or dessert, but should be eaten the day you make it or the day after.  Enjoy!
1 cake yeast or 1 envelope dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm milk
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
     (do not skip this ingredient)fruited bread
¼ cup sugar
½ cup melted butter
4 tablespoons finely ground blanched almonds
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup apricot preserves
½ cup sliced blanched almonds
¼ cup diced candied orange or lemon peels
¼ cup diced candied citron
½ cup chopped plump dried apricots
½ cup chopped plump prunes
¼ cup golden raisins, plumped in warm apricot brandy 
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk (105 degrees) in a bowl.  Be careful; if milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast.  Add sugar, salt, cardamom, almonds and butter (make sure butter has cooled, too).  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the beaten eggs. Add the remainder of the eggs to the yeast mixture along with 2 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Gradually add remaining flour, until a soft pliable dough is formed.  Place in a buttered bowl, cover with a light cloth and place in a warm spot until doubled in volume (or can refrigerate and let rise overnight).
After dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter, let rest a minute, and then punch down.  Roll out to a rectangle about 10 X 18 inches.  Brush melted butter over dough to one inch of all side edges.  Add the apricot preserves on top of the butter and spread the same, to one inch of sides. Sprinkle the nuts and fruits over same area to one inch of sides.  Roll lengthwise.  Tucking ends, lift and place diagonally on buttered or sprayed cookie sheet, seam side down.  With a sharp scissors, cut widthwise every inch, careful not to cut all the way through.  Push back the end piece, revealing some of the fruit, and then pull each strip, first one to the left, and then one to the right, pinching tops as you go, for the whole length of bread.  Cover with a light towel again and let rise in a warm spot for about 30-40 minutes.  To the reserved egg, add 2-3 tablespoons of water and beat.  Brush egg/water mixture over entire bread, trying not to get too much on pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Cool slightly and then lift with two spatulas to serving tray to cool the rest of the way.  As a gift, you can cut a large piece of sturdy cardboard the size of your tray, and cover with aluminum foil.  Place bread on the wrapped cardboard and when cooled completely, cover with saran wrap and add a bow or ribbons if you wish.  Make a lovely gift.


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