The openings in this holiday bread often serve as a container for Christmas cookies. From The Festive Bread Book by Kathy Cutler. I've changed the recipe just a bit to prevent any mishaps with the yeast.
Heat milk with sugar, butter and salt until hot, stir to melt butter and allow to cool until slightly warm, but not hot.
Dissolve the yeast in tepid water, add a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar (if you wish). Set aside in warm place until warm and bubbly.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, cardamon and nutmeg in mixer bowl.
Combine the milk mixture with the yeast and add to the flour. Mix thoroughly.
Add the egg and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, until smooth.
Turn into a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a work surface and form into a 32 inch rope.
Shape the dough into a huge pretzel. (Form into a circle with two six inch ends curving into the center. Twist the ends together, then press and tuck under the top of the circle). Place on a greased baking sheet.
Cover and let rise until almost double, about 30 minutes. Brush with the egg glaze and bake in a preheated 350 deg F oven for about 30 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack.