Christmas Morning Fruit Ring

©From "Great Bread Every Time" by Marilyn Barbe

Serve for your Christmas brunch or enjoy it while opening gifts.

1 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. yeast
1/2 cup milk, scalded
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup melted margarine
5 cups flour

¼ cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup currants
¼ cup lemon peel
¼ cup candied cherries, chopped

In a 2 cup measure, pour 1 cup warm water. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, but do not stir. Slowly sprinkle 1 tablespoon yeast into the water, making sure each particle gets wet. Again, do not stir. Wait 10 minutes until the yeast is thick and foamy.

While you are waiting for the yeast to proof mix the following ingredients in your bread bowl, stirring well between each addition: 1/2 cup warm milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the proofed yeast, 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup cooled margarine.

ADD FLOUR (quickly)
Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time to make a stiff dough. Lightly coat the dough with flour before turning it out.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic: 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease the top, set in a warm, draft-free spot until double in bulk: 1½-2 hours.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half and work with 1/2 at a time. Roll 1/2 into a 14" x 12" rectangle. Brush the dough with 1/2 of the melted butter. Mix the filling together and sprinkle half of it on the dough. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll and place it on a greased baking sheet. Shape the roll into a ring and pinch the seam together. Cut at 1" intervals with scissors. Twist each cut to show the filling.

Set the baking sheet in a warm, draft-free spot and allow to rise until double: 30 minutes. If the dough rises in too warm a spot the ring will lose its shape.

Just before baking brush the dough with egg wash.

Bake at 3500F in oven for 30-35 minutes. Cover the bread with aluminum foil if the fruit starts to darken too quickly. Cool immediately after baking on a wire rack.

Drizzle with Icing Sugar Glaze (page 22) while still warm. Decorate with glaced cherries.