Christmas Bread

"This bread makes wonderful Christmas gifts," says Elaine Fowler, whose mother handed down this recipe to her. The abundant fruit and nuts add festive pops of sweetness and crunch.

BREAD

1/4 cup warm water (110ºF. to 115ºF.)
1 (1/4-oz.) pkg. active dry yeast
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 cup candied fruit, divided

GLAZE

2 cups powdered sugar 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk

1. Combine water and yeast in small bowl; let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Bring 3/4 cup milk to a simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; pour into large bowl of stand mixer (dough can also be made by hand). Add butter; stir until melted. Let stand until mixture has cooled to warm (110ºF. to 115ºF.).

2. Beat in sugar, egg, egg yolk, lemon peel, salt and nutmeg at low speed with paddle attachment, if available. Beat in yeast mixture. Slowly beat in 4 cups flour, adding additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to form soft dough.

3. Increase speed to medium-low; beat 5 minutes to knead, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in medium greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Let stand in warm place 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

4. Meanwhile, generously butter 2 (12-cup) Bundt pans*. Sprinkle each with 1/2 cup of the pecans and 1/2 cup of the candied fruit. Gently punch down dough. Divide dough in half. Divide each half in two and shape into 2 (18-inch) long ropes. Loosely twist dough together and secure ends; place in Bundt pans. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350ºF. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; invert onto wire rack. Cool completely.

6. Whisk powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk in small bowl until smooth, adding additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time to desired glaze consistency. Drizzle over bread; let stand until set.

2 (12-slice) loaves

PER SLICE: 220 calories, 7 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 3.5 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 25 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber TIP * To make individual Christmas Breads with half of the dough, generously butter 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the pecans and 1/2 cup of the candied fruit. Divide half of the dough into 12 pieces. With well-buttered hands, form each piece into a ball; place in muffin cups. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake at 350°F. 12 to 15 minutes.


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