Scandinavian Christmas Bread Fave!

Yield: 10 Servings
A Christmas-Morning favorite around the Pollock household. This is extra-good warm out of the oven or, even better, sliced and stuck under the broiler with a little butter added and grilled crispy.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbl active dry yeast (2 1/2 packets)
  • 1 Tbl sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fruitcake mix or candied cherries, cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup raisins

Preparation

Soften raisins by putting them in small amount of hot water. Prepare candied fruit by dicing and shaking them in a bag with a little flour to coat and separate the fruit.

In a medium bowl dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/4 cup warm water.

In a saucepan, scald milk: bring to 180F in a saucepan over medium heat while stirring constantly -- small bubbles should form. Stir in shortening and let cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer milk mixture to a big mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup sugar, salt and ground cardamom seed. Mix in 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time. If using a mixer, start with the paddle attachment.

Stir in yeast mixture. Add in 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time. Add candied fruit, raisins, and chopped almonds, mixing well. If using a mixer, switch to the dough hook at this point.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups of remaining flour, 1 cup at a time.

Turn dough out on a floured board and kneed well. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

Put dough in a warm place (about 80F) or in a warmed oven (turned off) with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack. Let dough rise until double, about 45 mins. Punch down and let rise until double again.

Punch down and cut into 2 equal sections. Knead well. Form round loaves and place them on a cookie sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and double once more.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake loaves for about 35 minutes -- the tops should be golden brown.