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Viennese Christmas Bread Recipe

A whole wheat sweet bread with orange and vanilla flavors studded with candied cherries and dried cranberries is a welcome gift during the holidays. It makes the most amazing French toast ever.
Course Yeast Bread
Cuisine Holiday
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 1
Author Marye Audet

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110F)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • Pinch of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm whole milk (110F)
  • 1/4 cup warm orange juice (110F)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla)
  • 1 room temperature egg , beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped red and green candied cherries
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspooon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter cooled to 110F.

Glaze

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup Confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of cream

Topping

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans ,

Instructions

  • Add the rum to the dried cranberries.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for about 40 seconds.
  • Set aside.
  • Add the water, ginger, and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the yeast.
  • Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Add the milk, orange juice, sugar, vanilla paste, and egg to the yeast.
  • Blend well.
  • Add the candied cherries and cranberries.
  • Mix 1 cup of the flour with the vital wheat gluten, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom.
  • Beat into the yeast mixture.
  • Add in the melted butter.
  • With mixer running, add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough that is easy to handle. It will feel tacky but not stick to your fingers.
  • Knead according to manufacturer's instructions for about 10 minutes or about 20 minutes by hand.
  • Give it a final kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface -- just a minute or two to make sure it's been kneaded thoroughly.
  • Dough should be elastic but will still be slightly tacky to the touch.
  • Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease the top of the dough, and cover with a clean tea towel.
  • Put in a warm place to rise for about 2 1/4 hours -- or until double.
  • Punch down.
  • Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Shape into loaf or braid.

To Braid the Loaf

  • Divide dough into 9 equal strands.
  • Roll each into a strand about 15-inches long.
  • Start with four strands and braid them loosely -- it's easiest if you start at the center and braid to each end.
  • Place on a greased baking sheet.
  • With the side of your hand make a dent down the middle of the braid. This helps the next braid to stay put.
  • Take the next three strands and braid them loosely, starting at the middle and braiding to the ends.
  • Carefully place it on top of the first braid and press gently. Now, make another dent down the middle of the second braid.
  • Take the remaining two strands of dough and twist them loosely around each other.
  • Place on top of the second braid and press gently.
  • Bring the ends of the last twist down over the ends of the loaf and tuck underneath.

Second Rise

  • Cover with a clean tea towel.
  • Let rise in a warm place 1 1/2 hours.

Bake the Viennese Christmas Bread

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • While the oven is preheating brush the loaf with the egg glaze.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • Remove to a rack to cool.
  • Cover with a towel while cooling if you'd like a soft crust.

Frosting

  • Mix the Confectioner's sugar and cream together to make a smooth, runny frosting.
  • Spread on the top of the bread while it is still warm.
  • Sprinkle with the chopped nuts.