Fruit-Filled Cardamom Bread

READY IN: 2hrs 45mins
YIELD: 3 loaves




  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast with warm water, soften for about 5 minutes. In a 1- to 1 1/2 -quart pan, combine butter and milk; warm over medium heat until milk is 110 degrees. Butter does not need to melt. (Or heat butter and milk in a microwave-safe bowl, uncovered, in a microwave until mixture is 110 degrees.)
  • Add milk mixture, whole eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, lemon peel, cardamom, salt and 3 cups flour to yeast. Beat at medium speed until dough is stretchy and shiny, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour.
  • With a dough hook attachment, beat at high speed until dough pulls cleanly from sides of bowl, 5 to 8 minutes. If dough still sticks, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough pulls free. (Or scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.)
  • Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees and make filling. Place slivered almonds in a 9-inch pan and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Soak 1 cup golden raisins in orange juice and brandy or vanilla until plump, about 30 minutes.
  • In a food processor, finely chop raisin mixture, almonds, chopped apple, dried apricots, cinnamon and grated orange peel.
  • When dough is ready, punch dough down. On a floured surface, roll into a 10-by-36-inch rectangle. Spread fruit filling over dough to within 1/2 inch of long sides. Roll from a long side, jelly roll-style. Cut into three equal-sized loafs. Pinch and smooth ends of loaf to prevent filling from falling out.
  • Place seam-side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 25 minutes. Mix egg yolk and water. Brush over tree.
  • Bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown, 40 to 45 minute. If necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning.
  • Remove from oven and cool. Mix powdered sugar with orange juice until smooth.
  • Spoon glaze over bread. Slice when warm or cool and wrap in plastic.
  • Makes 3 loaves.
  • Christmas tree variation: Before rolling out dough, set aside 1/3 cup. Roll and fill remaining dough as directed. Take the long piece of dough, seam-side down, and zig-zag it into a stacked "S" shape to make a tree that is narrow at top and broad at base. Form reserved 1/3 cup dough into a ball and attach it to the base of tree as the trunk. Continue to rise and bake as directed above. Makes 1 large loaf.