A Czech Christmas bread baked in northern Austria. Makes one very large loaf or three smaller ones
- 2 pkgs dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (105 – 115°F)
- ¾ cup warm milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 to 7 cups flour
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 3 beaten eggs
- 3 tbsp grated orange rind (I use just the orange part, rubbed off on a grater, so it takes two medium oranges to give me enough)
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup each, golden and dark raisins
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
- Add the milk and sugar and let stand until the surface becomes foamy in about 5 minutes.
- Stir in three cups of the flour, butter, eggs, orange peel, almond extract, nutmeg, and the salt.
- Beat until very smooth.
- Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 to 8 minutes while adding the raisins and almonds a little at a time.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn it over once or twice to coat it with grease.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or wax paper and set it in a warm, quiet place until it has risen to double its size (about 1 hour).
- Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured board and divide it into threes * divide each piece into thirds and, with your hands, roll each into a rope about twenty inches long.
- Braid the threes.
- For one loaf, put the biggest braid onto a lightly-greased baking sheet, the bigger braid on top, and the big braid on top of that.
- For three loaves, arrange the three (equal) braids separately on the lightly greased baking sheet.
- Let rise again for about an hour.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 yo 60 minutes.
- Check at 45 minutes by tapping on the loaf.
- If it is done, it will sound hollow.