Prep 4 hrs
Cook 30 mins
We love this bread for Christmas morning breakfast.
- 1 cup lukewarm water (110oF)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 1⁄2 cups blanched ground almonds
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 3 -4 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Pour lukewarm (110oF) water into a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over top. Do not stir. Let stand for 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy.
- Meanwhile, measure 3 cups flour into a large bowl. Using a fork, stir in 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp salt. Form a well in centre of mixture. Add eggs, oil and yeast mixture. Stir well, using a spoon, just until blended.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough with floured hands. When dough becomes sticky, liberally sprinkle flour on kneading surface. Continue kneading until dough forms a smooth satiny ball, about 10 minutes. By this time, you will have incorporated most of flour, and dough should bounce back when pressed with your finger.
- Place dough in a large oiled bowl. Roll around inside of bowl until dough is completely covered with a light coating of oil. Cover bowl with a piece of oiled waxed paper, topped by a damp cloth. Let stand in a warm place, such as on top of the refrigerator, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare filling. In a small bowl, blend ground almonds and sugar. Stir in egg white, milk and almond extract until thoroughly blended.
- Set aside.
- Punch down dough. Cover and let rise again until double in size, about 45 minutes.
- Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Roll into long strands. Flatten each strand with rolling pin. Spread almond filling over each strand to 1/4 inch from sides. Roll back into long strands.
- Place strands on a lightly greased baking sheet. And braid loosely. Tuck in ends.* Cover with a damp cloth and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 more minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400oF. Whisk egg yolk with water. Brush loaf with beaten egg yolk. Bake in centre of preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes Place piece of foil paper over bread if browning too quickly.
- *You can also shape braid into a circle to form wreath and decorate with an icing sugar frosting, almonds and cherries.