Sweet Iced Christmas Bread
2 1/2 c  Bread (or unbleached flour)
-More flour may be necessary
1 c  milk (105F-to-115F),Warm
1 pk Active dry yeast
1/4 c  Sugar
1    Egg,at room temperature
1/2 t  Salt
1/2 c  Butter,at room temperature
1/2 c  Glaceed cherries
1/2 c  mixed candied fruit,Chopped
1/2 c  Date bits
1/2 c  Coarsely walnuts,Chopped
-or pecans

GLAZE

1    Egg,beaten, mixed with
1 t  Milk (or water)

DECORATION

7    Halves of glaceed cherries
7    Walnut (or pecan halves)

ICING

1/2 c  Confectioners’ sugar
1/2 T  Vegetable oil
1/4 t  Almond extract
Water

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F. In a food processor or mixer bowl, mix 1 cup of
the flour, the warm milk, yeast and sugar. If time allows, cover the
bowl with plastic wrap and leave the dough at room temperature to
ferment and bubble for 2 hours. If time does not allow, proceed to
add the egg, salt and butter. Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a
time, to make a soft dough. Knead the dough in the food processor,
mixer or on a floured board until elastic and smooth. Mix the
cherries, candied fruit, dates and nuts together and fold and knead
1/3 of the mixture at a time into the dough until well mixed. Place
in an oiled plastic bag or oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Seal or cover
and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 3/4 to 1 hour.
Punch down. Knead briefly. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Form the
dough into an oval approximately the length of the pan, and place in
pan. Let rise again until doubled. Brush the loaves with the egg
glaze. Bake on the middle shelf about 40-to-50 minutes until nicely
browned. Cover with foil if the loaf browns too rapidly. Cool on a
wire rack.

TO MAKE ICING, mix confectioners’ sugar, oil, almond
extract and enough water to make a smooth consistency. Brush cooled
bread with icing. Top with the candied cherries and nuts.

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