Italian christmas bread

Yield: 1 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 cup Warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 packs Active dry yeast
½ cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3 \N Eggs, beaten
1 \N Egg, separated
5½ \N To 6 - cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup Raisins
1 cup (8 oz) mixed candied peel
½ cup (4 oz) red candied cherries, halved
1 tablespoon Butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons Water
2 tablespoons Sugar

If possible, check temperature of warm water with a thermometer.

Sprinkle yeast over water in a large bowl, stirring until dissolved.

Add ½ cup sugar, salt, ½ cup butter, 3 eggs, the egg yolk and 3 cups flour; beat with wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually, add remaining flour; mix in last part with hand until dough leaves side of bowl.

Turn dough onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth, 5 minutes.

(Dough is soft. )Place in lightly greased large bowl; turn to bring greased side up. Cover with towel; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

Grease well and line inside of 8" springform pan with 4" strip of buttered brown paper. Punch down dough; turn out onto lightly floured pastry cloth or board. Knead in raisins and candied fruits until well distributed, about 5 minutes. Place dough in prepared pan. Brush top with 1 Tbsp melted butter. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place, free from drafts, until more than double in bulk, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut deep cross on top of bread. Brush with egg white combined with 2 Tbsp water. Bake 30 minutes. Remove bread form oven. Brush again with egg white mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Continue baking 30 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on rack. Makes 1 loaf.

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