PREPARATION NOTES: Melt the butter, chop the dried figs, chop the apricots and chop the almonds.
Place yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp flour, salt and warm water into a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the yeast and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 15 - 20 minutes or until frothy.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together 4 eggs, the remaining sugar and the milk. Stir in the frothy yeast mixture, 6 1/2 cuts of the remaining flour and the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted butter then the remaining ingredients.
Mix to form a stiff dough, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (add remaining flour if needed). The dough should smooth and soft.
Return the dough to the cleaned mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough back to its original size. Return to the bowl again, cover and leave in a warm place for another 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into about a 12 inch rope and braid three of them together, molding the ends together to seal. Repeat with the other three ropes and make another braid. Place each braid o a lightly oiled cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for a final 40 minutes until the braid has risen.
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and glaze the tops of both braids. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.