This festive Italian bread is traditionally served for Christmas breakfast. We’ve updated the recipe to use dried cranberries and apricot instead of citron fruit, but any combination of dried fruit can be used. It’s delicious on it’s own with coffee or tea, toasted with apricot jam, made into French toast or used to make an extra-special bread pudding.
* 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup warm milk
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 egg yolks
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
* 1 cup dried apricot, chopped
* 2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons orange zest
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon cream
* Whole peeled almonds
* Raw sugar for sprinkle
3 Kraft lunch-size paper bags or panettone wrappers.
1. To make sponge, warm a small bowl by rinsing it with hot water. Pour in warm water and sprinkle 1 package yeast on it. Let stand until yeast has dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 30 minutes, or until doubled. Sprinkle remaining yeast over warm milk. Let stand until dissolved. Beat together sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir in milk-yeast mixture. Add sponge and stir until well incorporated.
2. Combine butter and remaining 3 1/2 cups flour until crumbly. Slowly pour in egg mixture and beat on high speed 3 to 4 minutes, until dough is elastic looking and long strands form. Beat in fruit and zests. Turn dough into oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.
3. Fold topp of 3 lunch bags to form a 3-inch cuff (or use a panettone wrapper and omit brushing with butter). Brush inside and out with melted butter. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to deflate. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and drop into prepared bags. Place bags on a baking sheet about 4-inches apart and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 2 hours.
4. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cut an X in top of each loaf with oiled scissors. Combine egg yolk with cream. Brush tops of loaves lightly with egg wash, poke blanched almonds in to the top in a fan pattern and sprinkle with raw sugar.
5. Place baking sheet in bottom 1/3 of oven. After 10 minutes, lower heat to 375 degrees F(190 degrees C). Bake for 30 more minutes; if tops get too brown, cover with foil. Loaves are done when a wooden skewer inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.