CATEGORIES
Dessert

Italian Christmas Bread

Prep:
50 m
Cook:
7 h 0 m
Ready in:
7 h 50 m
Yum
Bake this stunning festive bread to celebrate Christmas.
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INGREDIENTS
Servings: 36
Warm water
1/3 cup (110° F/45° C)
Active dry yeast
2 packages (1/2 oz total)
All-purpose flour
4 cups
Warm milk
½ cup
White sugar
2/3 cup
4 eggs + 2 egg yolks + 1 yolk
Vanilla extract
1 tsp
Unsalted butter
12 tbsps
Candied fruit
2 cups
Lemon zest
2 ½ tsps, grated
Orange zest
2 tbsps, grated
Butter
2 tbsps, melted
Cream
1 tbsp
DIRECTIONS
  1. Place a small bowl under hot running water to warm it up. Add warm water, sprinkle 1 package of yeast on top. Leave in a warm place to let the yeast dissolve. 
  2. Add ½ cup flour, mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled (about 30 minutes or so).
  3. In another bowl, sprinkle the other package of yeast over warm milk. Let sit until yeast dissolves.
  4. In a large bowl, beat eggs with 2 egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add the milk mixture, stir well. Add the flour-yeast mixture, too, and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Cut butter into 3 ½ cups flour until you get dough crumbs. Start beating on high while pouring the egg mixture in a thin thread. Continue beating until you add in all of the egg mixture and get an elastic dough with long strands forming.  Fold in candied fruit and both zests.
  6. Oil a clean bowl, place dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. LSet into a warm place for about 2 to 3 hours to rise.
  7. Fold 3 oven bags to form 3-in cuffs. Smear with melted butter inside and out.
  8. Knead the dough a little on a flour-dusted work surface until deflated. Divide into 3 pieces, roll into balls and place them in the bags. Place the bags onto a baking sheet about 4 inches apart, cover each with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 2 more hours or till doubled in size.
  9. Pre-heat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6.
  10. Mix cream with the remaining egg yolk.
  11. Oil scissors and cut an X on top of the loaves.  Smear the tops with the egg wash lightly.
  12. Place the baking sheet into the lower 1/3 of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5. Continue baking for 30 minutes. If the tops brown too early, cover them with aluminum foil. Check readiness with a wooden skewer. Slice up when cooled completely.
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