Thursday, November 27, 2008

Onion Bread


1 cup milk, scalded 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tablespoon salt 1 1/2 tablespoons oil 2 tablespoons active dry yeast 1/4 cup warm water 1/2 cup chopped onion 6 cups unbleached flour

Combine milk, sugar, salt and oil in a large bowl and cool until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water and stir into the milk mixture. Add the onion. Beat vigorously for 10 minutes, gradually adding about 4 cups of the flour, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in a bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft−free place until doubled in bulk — about 45 minutes.

Grease two loaf pans. Punch down the dough. Divide in half, shape into loaves, and place in the pans. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk — about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Olive−Dill Casserole Bread


2 packages dry yeast 2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F) 1/4 cup minced fresh dill weed or

 1 1/2 tablespoons dried dill weed 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 3 tablespoons chopped pimento−stuffed olives 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 2 teaspoons salt 4 1/2 cups all−purpose flour, divided 1 teaspoon dill seed

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in dill weed, sugar, olives, butter, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until mixture is smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Place dough in a well−greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Dough may be light and bubbly.

Punch dough down and vigorously stir with a wooden spoon 30 seconds. Turn out into a lightly greased 2−quart round casserole. Sprinkle top of dough with 1 teaspoon dill seed. Bake at 375 degrees F for 55 to 60 minutes, covering top of bread with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary.

Remove bread from casserole and let cool on wire rack. Baked bread may be frozen for up to 3 months, if desired.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Old−Fashioned Oatmeal Bread


1 3/4 cups boiling water 1 cup rolled (quick−cooking) oats 5 1/3 tablespoons (2/3 stick) butter 1/2 cup table molasses (golden, barrel) 1 tablespoon salt 2 packages dry yeast 1/4 cup lukewarm water Pinch of granulated sugar 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 6 cups sifted all−purpose flour

Combine boiling water, rolled oats, butter, molasses and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm. While cooling, proof the yeast by adding it to the lukewarm water with the sugar. If it foams, it is active. Add to the lukewarm oat mixture and blend well. Gradually stir in the eggs and flour. The dough will be stickier than regular bread dough. Pour into a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until needed.

Remove the chilled dough and knead about 2 minutes to remove air bubbles. Divide into two and shape into loaves on a well−floured surface. Generously grease two loaf pans and sprinkle extra rolled oats around their bottoms and sides. Place the loaves into the greased pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm, draft−free place until double in bulk, approximately 2 hours.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until done. The bread should pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from pans at once and serve warm.

Oatmeal Batter Bread


3/4 cup boiling water 1/2 cup old−fashioned rolled oats 3 tablespoons shortening 1/4 cup honey 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice 1 package dry yeast 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/4 cup warm water 1 egg, slightly beaten 1 1/4 cups flour 1 1/2 cups flour

In medium bowl, stir together boiling water, oats, shortening, honey, salt and apple pie spice until well mixed. Cool.

Mix yeast, sugar and warm water, stirring until dissolved. Add yeast mixture, egg and 1 1/4 cups flour to oatmeal mixture. Beat well. Gradually add the 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat until batter is smooth. Spread batter into greased 9 x 5−inch loaf pan. Cover with towel and let rise 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Miracle Bread


Part 1
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Mix together until dissolved.

Part 2
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Mix and cool to lukewarm temperature.

Mix Parts 1 and 2 together, then add about 6 1/4 cups flour; blend well. Turn dough upside down every
10 minutes for approximately 4 or 5 times to avoid getting a crust on the dough. Divide dough in half
and roll as you would pie dough. Roll back up into a jellyroll. Make several diagonal cuts across top.
Put in bread pan and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Just before baking, spread a mixture of 1 egg plus 2 tablespoons milk on top. Sprinkle with sesame
seeds, poppy seeds, etc. For a hard crust, use water with the egg instead of the milk. Bake at 425
degrees F for 15 to 25 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves or 3 long Italian loaves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jamaican Cherry Ginger Bread


1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour, divided
2/3 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 tablespoon grated lime peel
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (or 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
Put milk and butter in a medium saucepan; heat until warm (105 to 115 degrees F). Pour milk mixture
into a large mixing bowl. Add yeast; stir until dissolved. Add brown sugar, lime juice and salt; mix
well. Add 2 cups bread flour. Beat on low speed with an electric mixer until flour is moistened; beat 3
minutes at medium speed. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups bread flour, coconut, dried cherries, lime peel
and ginger; mix until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more bread flour, if needed.
Place dough in a greased mixing bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cloth. Let rise in a warm
place (80 to 85 degrees F) about 1 hour, or until double in size.
Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Let rest 15 minutes. Shape into a loaf. Place
in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2−inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in a warm place 45 to 60 minutes, or until
double in size.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden and loaf sounds hollow when
lightly tapped. Remove from pan immediately. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room
Makes 1 loaf, about 16 slices.

To toast coconut: Spread coconut in an ungreased pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven 5 to 7
minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden brown

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No−Knead Dill Bread


1 tablespoon active dry yeast 2 1/2 cups flour 1/4 cup lukewarm water 105 to 115 degrees F 1 cup cottage cheese room temperature 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tablespoon dried minced onion 1 tablespoon butter room temperature 2 teaspoons dill seed 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 egg at room temperature Melted butter Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine yeast and flour and set aside.

Place water in a food processor, add cottage cheese, sugar, onion, butter, dill seed, salt, baking soda, egg and flour mixture, processing until thoroughly mixed.

Lightly grease and 8−inch round casserole dish. Place dough in dish. Cover with a light lint free towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes. After removing bread from oven, brush top with melted butter, sprinkle with salt.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No−Knead Bread


5 cups biscuit mix 4 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 packages dry yeast 2 cups warm milk (105 to 110 degrees F) 4 eggs 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Sift into a large bowl the biscuit mix, sugar and salt. Soften yeast in milk. Beat eggs with cream of tartar until thoroughly mixed. Combine milk mixture with eggs and pour into dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed. This makes a heavy, sticky mixture. Set aside in a warm place covered with a damp cloth (a yeast mixture rises best at about 80 degrees F).

When doubled in bulk, stir down and fill two loaf pans, which have been greased, about half way. Again, allow mixture to double its size before baking at 350 degrees F about 20 minutes.

Serve very hot. This bread freezes well, but must be allowed to thaw completely before re−heating.

Makes 2 loaves.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

LuAnn's Seedtime and Harvest Loaves


Makes two 2 1/4 pound loaves. About 32 slices.

Each slice contains about 150 Calories; 3g Fat; 7g Protein; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 206mg Sodium. Each slice also contains about 1/3 of the RDA for Vitamin A as well as significant amounts of several of the B vitamins!

2 cups water

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie mix)

1/3 cup honey or brown rice syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons flax seeds (ground preferred)

1/2 cup uncooked millet

1 tablespoon salt

6 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided use

4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1/2 cup soy flour

4 tablespoons gluten, wheat (also known as "vital gluten", available in large supermarkets on the baking aisles, or in health food stores)

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1                     In the mixing bowl of a duty electric mixer, combine the water, pumpkin, honey or brown rice syrup, olive oil, ground flax seeds, millet, salt, 2 CUPS of the whole wheat flour, bread machine yeast, soy flour, wheat gluten, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Using a dough hook attachment, beat the mixture on medium−high speed for about 2 minutes to begin developing gluten. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of the flour; with mixer on low speed, gradually mix in 2 more cups of the flour. Continue kneading the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes; adding as much of the remaining flour as is necessary for dough to cling together in a ball and leave the sides of the mixing bowl clean.

2                     Lift the dough out of the bowl momentarily, brush the inside of the mixing bowl with olive oil or spray with no−stick cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl; turn to coat all sides lightly with oil. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place; allow to stand for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is doubled in bulk. Punch down.

3                     Spray a large baking sheet with no−stick cooking spray; set aside. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, about 2 1/4 pounds each. On a lightly floured work surface, shape each half into an oval loaf. Carefully transfer the loaves to the prepared pan, allowing several inches between them to allow for rising. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut 3 shallow slashes diagonally (going about 1/4−inch deep) at equal intervals, across the top of the loaves. Cover the loaves with a clean, lightweight towel; allow to rise for about 45 minutes, or until the loaves have approximately doubled in bulk. When nearly ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

 Bake the loaves in the preheated 350 degree F oven for about 40 minutes or until they are nicely browned and sound "hollow" when tapped. (If necessary, cover lightly with foil during the last few minutes of baking time to prevent overbrowning). Remove from the oven. Brush the loaves lightly with olive or flax seed oil. Remove to a wire rack. Cover loosely with the clean, lightweight towel until the loaves have cooled completely. Store in airtight bags or container. Bread will stay flavorful and moist for several days. Extra delicious toasted!

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Fail Yeast Bread


5 cups warm water 1/4 cup oil 1 1/2 tablespoon salt 1 cup honey or 3/4 cup sugar 3 tablespoon yeast 3 tablespoon dough enhancer, (optional) 11 1/4 cups flour

This recipe is easiest if a large mixer is used. If a mixer is unavailable, dough may be kneaded by hand.

Combine water, oil, salt, sugar (or honey) and dough enhancer. Add yeast, mix. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 8 − 10 minutes. Flour hands and remove from mixer.

Divide into 4 parts. Shape each part into a loaf and place into greased loaf pans. Cover and allow to rise until dough is 1 inch above pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 min.

NOTE: A nice variation is to make sweet rolls. Take 1 or 2 of the pieces of bread dough divided to make a loaf. Roll each portion of dough out into a 14 x 8 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Brush with 1−2 tablespoons softened butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up dough. Cut into 1 inch slices and place on greased baking pan. Allow to rise until double in bulk. Bake as above.

Milwaukee Rye Bread


1 1/2 packages active dry yeast 2 cups hot potato water 1 tablespoon salt 4 cups rye flour 2 cups wheat flour 1 cup riced potatoes, solidly packed 1 teaspoon caraway seed

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm liquid. Add remaining liquid. Stir in remaining ingredients. Knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise in warm place until doubled. Form into loaves. Place in loaf pans. Let rise.

When doubled in bulk, brush top with water; bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour or longer.

Makes 2 loaves.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jalapeño Bread


2 envelopes active dry yeast 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/2 cup warm water, (110°F) 8 3/4 cups all−purpose flour 3 cups shredded extra−sharp Cheddar cheese 1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers 1 tablespoon salt 2 teaspoons Tabasco pepper sauce 2 cups milk 4 large eggs

In a small bowl stir yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine 8 cups flour, Cheddar cheese, jalapeno pepper, salt and Tabasco pepper sauce.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until warm (120 to 130 degrees F). Stir milk into flour mixture.

In a medium bowl lightly beat eggs. Set aside 1 tablespoon beaten egg to brush on dough later. Add remaining eggs to flour mixture; stir until the mixture makes a soft dough.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, kneading in the remaining 3/4 cup flour.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, greased bowl, turning dough over to grease the top. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease two large cookie sheets. Punch down dough and divide it in half. Shape each half of dough into a ball and place the balls on the cookie sheets. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with the reserved beaten egg. Bake loaves about 45 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when lightly tapped. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Jalapeño Bagels


1 3/4 cups lukewarm water 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast 2 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar 5 to 6 cups flour 1/3 cup jalapeños, chopped 1/4 cup dried red peppers

Mix water, yeast, salt and sugar. Add flour and jalapeños and mix into a ball. Knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is stiff. Add red peppers and knead for 3 minutes. Let dough rest 10 minutes, then cut into 12 pieces with a knife.

Roll each piece of dough on a table to form long cigar−like shapes. Then, for each of the twelve pieces, connect the two ends by overlapping them about 3/4 of an inch and rolling the ends together to make a ring shape. Make sure each joint is secure or it will come apart while boiling.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot. In a large pot, bring 1 to 2 gallons of water to a rolling boil. Place bagels in boiling water and boil until they float (15 to 30 seconds). Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Italian Herb Focaccia with Three Cheese and Caramelized Onions


2 cups water, at 70 degrees F 2 teaspoons RapidRise yeast 4 to 4 1/2 cups bread or all−purpose flour 1 tablespoon sea salt 1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for coating dough

Place water and dry yeast in a 5−quart Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.

Scoop in bread flour, and add salt and 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix 6−7 minutes. Dough will be sticky but manageable. Cover dough well with olive oil and a damp cloth.

When the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and place on a 15−inch−by−10−inch baking sheet that has been coated with olive oil. Push the dough outward with your hands. Let the dough rest and repeat until the dough totally covers the baking sheet and doesn't spring back.

Let the dough rest on the baking sheet until it reaches double its size. While waiting, gather the following ingredients:

2 onions, sliced and caramelized (see note) 3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese 2 tablespoons Italian herb seasoning

When dough has doubled in size, use your fingertips to dimple the dough. Spread caramelized onions, cheeses and herb seasoning on top of dough, and push into the dough. Let the dough rise again until it comes up and over all the ingredients on top. Brush olive oil on top, and bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Slice and serve.

NOTE: To caramelize onions, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring until onions are translucent. Sprinkle onions with 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until onions are very soft and well caramelized.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

King's Hawaiian Bread


6 cups flour, divided 3 eggs 1 cup pineapple juice 1 cup water 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 packages yeast 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine 1/2 cup flour

Beat eggs; add pineapple juice, water, sugar, ginger, vanilla extract and melted butter or margarine. Put 3 cups of the flour in large mixing bowl. Add egg mixture and stir until well mixed. Sprinkle in yeast, 1 package at a time, mixing well. Gradually add remaining 3 cups of flour. Batter will be hard to mix with spoon. You may have to use your hands. Make sure it is mixed well. Leave batter in bowl and cover with cloth and place in warm place. Let rise for 1 hour.

Remove from bowl and knead in the 1/2 cup flour. Knead about 10 times. Divide into 3 equal parts and place in well−greased round cake pans. Cover and place in warm place and let rise again, for l hour.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Italian Easter Bread


1 package dry yeast 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F) 3/4 cup butter, softened 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon grated orange rind 1 tablespoon crushed aniseed 4 eggs 1 egg yolk About 4 3/4 cups flour 1 cup raisins

Blend yeast with warm water and allow 5 minutes for it to dissolve. Add butter, sugar, milk, salt, orange rind, aniseed, eggs and egg yolk. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat at medium speed of electric mixer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup flour at low speed. Add 1 3/4 cups flour, stirring until well blended. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down, turn out onto floured surface and knead 10 minutes. Gently knead in raisins. Divide dough into 2 balls. Form two (9 inch) flattened rounds on a greased baking sheet. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until "puffy" (40 to 45 minutes). Make topping.

Topping 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup flour 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/3 cup almond paste 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water 3/4 to 1 cup sliced almonds Confectioners’ sugar

Blend sugar, flour, butter and almond paste with electric mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Brush top of rounds with egg white and water mixture. Place topping over loaves; then sprinkle with almonds. Press lightly. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven about 30 minutes. Serve warm dusted with confectioners' sugar.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Italian Bread Sticks


2 cups sifted flour 1 teaspoon dry yeast dissolved in 3 tablespoons warm water 3 tablespoons melted butter 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup lukewarm milk Sesame seeds

Place 1 cup flour in mixing bowl. Blend in yeast mixture. Knead until smooth. Put in floured bowl and cover with damp cloth. Leave in a warm place until double in bulk.

Mix remaining ingredients into a smooth paste. Place on floured board and add risen dough; knead until smooth and satiny. Put dough into a large floured bowl, cover and let rise to double in bulk. Turn and knead until it doesn't stick to un−floured board.

Divide into 14 parts. Shape each by rolling between hands into a rope six to seven inches long. Place on buttered baking sheet one inch apart. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 425 degrees F for 6 to 7 minutes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Honey Whole Wheat Bread


1 package dry yeast 1/4 cup lukewarm water 1 1/4 cups hot water 1/4 cup honey 2 tablespoons shortening 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided 2 cups sifted flour, divided

Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water to soften. In a large bowl, combine hot water with honey, shortening and salt. Stir mixture until honey and shortening are melted. Let cool to lukewarm. Add yeast; sift in 1 1/2 cups of the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the sifted white flour, and beat mixture until well combined. Add 1 cup each of white flour and whole wheat flour or enough to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a well−floured board and knead for about 10 minutes or until very smooth and elastic.

Transfer dough to a well−greased bowl, turn once, and let stand, covered, in a warm place away from drafts for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down, turn out onto a floured board, and form into a ball. Let dough stand covered for 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a loaf and put into a well−greased loaf pan. Let dough stand, covered, until doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes). Bake loaf at 375 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Turn loaf out onto a wire rack and let it cool. Makes 1 loaf.

Poppy Stollen

Sweet Bread Cranberry Filling
1 bag fresh cranberries (12 ounces or 3 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup water (or orange or other juice)
1 1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar, depending on
 how tart you like your cranberries 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Pick over the cranberries and put them in a medium−size saucepan. Add the other ingredients, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until the cranberries have all popped and released their tiny, crunchy seeds (you may have to help some of them). Let cool to room temperature without covering. If you give it an occasional stir, that will speed up the process.

Sweet Bread Almond Filling 4 egg whites 1 1/4 pounds ground almonds 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All−Purpose Flour 2 tablespoons butter, melted Few drops vanilla extract 2 tablespoons milk

Beat egg whites until thick. Slowly add the rest of the filling ingredients except the milk. Add only enough milk to adjust the consistency. Chill in the refrigerator as the dough is being made. This recipe makes enough filling for at least four braids.

The Bread Baker Bible

Sweet Bread Apricot Filling 2 cups boiling water 2 boxes (16 ounces) dried apricots 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour the boiling water over the apricots and cover with plastic wrap so that they can steam. When the apricots have softened, drain them. You can reserve the flavored sugar, and extract in a food processor and pulse until you have a thick purée.

Yield: Filling for two loaves

Monday, November 3, 2008

Holiday Sweet Bread


4 1/2 teaspoons or 2 packets active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water (95 degrees F) 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All−Purpose Flour 1 cup milk, scalded 1/4 cup butter 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 eggs, lightly beaten 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All−Purpose Flour Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water Confectioners' sugar icing, optional

In a small bowl or 2−cup measure combine the yeast, warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel and set aside until bubbly and very active, about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, scald the milk. Pour immediately into a large bowl and add the butter, salt, sugar, vanilla and beaten eggs. Stir to melt the butter. When the mixture is lukewarm, add the yeast mixture and mix together. Add flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and scrape out the bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and set aside. Knead the dough, using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the board. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky. (The secret to a soft, tender bread is a soft dough.) Place the dough into the oiled bowl, turn to oil all surfaces and cover with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Let sit in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Punch down and round into a ball. Divide in half, cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Form into desired shapes, such as the Swedish Almond Braid, Poppy Stollen or Six−Stranded Braid.

Swedish Almond Braid Lightly fold down dough. Divide dough in 3 pieces. Put plastic wrap over the top and set aside. Take one piece and roll it out into a rectangle approximately 16−inches x 9−inches to form

Swedish Almond Braid Spread almond filling down center section, leaving 1 inch of clear space at either end. Cut 1−inch−wide strips from edge of filling to outer edge of dough. Fold ends over, and bring dough strips across the filling on a diagonal, alternating from side to side, like a two−stranded braid. Cover dough with plastic wrap and a clean towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

F. Brush tops of loaves with the egg wash. Bake loaves 25 to 35 minutes, or until a rich, golden brown. Cool on wire racks. To decorate: Drizzle with thick Confectioners' Sugar Glaze (below), and top with sliced almonds.

Confectioners' Sugar Glaze: Mix 1 cup confectioners' sugar with 2 tablespoons liquid (water, milk, a few drops of flavor extract, rum, brandy, grated lemon or orange peel, etc.) If you drizzle glaze on right after pastries come out of the oven, it will spread and create a clear, shiny glaze over the whole surface. For more crunch, sprinkle nuts over this before it hardens.