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This recipe is a close replication of the Christmas bread I remember from my youth in Vulcan, Alberta. My Mom worked at the local bakery for a little Dutch man. He made this specialty bread every Christmas. It was as much a food tradition for the community as was Japanese oranges. After year of modifying different recipes (and learning the correct name), trying to find the right one, I’ve come up with this recipe. The result is pretty close to the remembered treat. It will take about three hours to make this bread.
- Dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl;.
- • Sift flour and sugar together. Mix well.
- • Add yeast. Mix well.
- • Make a well in the middle. Set aside.
- Wet ingredients.
- In another bowl;.
- • Warm the milk and butter.
- • Add one egg. Whisk until all the milk is absorbed.
- The dough.
- • Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Combine well.
- • Lightly flour a clean kneading surface.
- • Turn the dough out and knead until the surface is slightly shiny. The dough ball should be stretchy when it’s ready.
- • Lightly oil one of the mixing bowls. Place dough ball in the bowl and cover. Put the bowl in a warm place.
- • Let rise for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
- The part that makes it Christmas.
- • Rinse all the cherries to get rid of the juice.
- • Quarter ¼ cup of the cherries, half red, half green.
- • Chop the remaining cherries in to (approximately) ¼ inch x ¼ inch bits.
- • Place all the cherries into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with luke warm water.
- • Once well rinsed to remove as much of the juice you can, turn out on to a clean tea towel. Fold the tea towel on to the cherries and gently press to remove any remaining water and juice.
- • Place in a small bowl.
- • Grate the lemon rind and put in the bowl containing the cherries.
- • Put the sliced almonds in the same bowl and mix all ingredients.
- The Almond Paste.
- • In a small bowl, cube the almond paste. Add the white of the second egg. Discard the yolk. Blend well and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F Have a rack in the center.
- Pour the fruit mixture on to a floured surface. After the dough has risen, place on top of the fruit mixture and knead until everything is well combined, flouring lightly as needed to keep the elasticity of the dough intact.
- Roll the dough until about one-half inches thick. You should have a circle of dough about 14 - 16 inches in diameter.
- If you are able, roll the almond paste in to a rope the length being about an inch shorter than the diameter of your rolled out dough. If you can’t roll the almond paste, spread it directly on to the rolled out dough, right across the center. Fold the dough in half, over the almond paste. Pat the dough together, flattening the almond paste a bit. Place the loaf corner to corner on to a flat baking sheet. Use parchment paper if you have it, otherwise you can lightly grease the baking sheet.
- Let the loaf rise for 10 to 15 minutes (less if you want the loaf a bit flatter).
- Bake for 30 minutes and check the bread. It should be golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool. Rub the surface with margarine. When its just barely warm, sift icing sugar on to the crescent. Stick two or three holly leaves with a few holly berries on the center at the top (the non-iced part).
- For serving, slice ¾ inches wide. Store the bread in a plastic bag, after it’s completely cooled.