Christmas Bread

2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
6-7 cups flour
Melted butter
1 cup each: candied cherries, raisins, chopped nuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Scald milk; add shortening, sugar and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour and beat slightly (enough to make batter). Add yeast, beaten eggs, plus 2 cups flour. Beat again. Add remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl; set in warm place, Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. Divide dough in half; roll out as for cinnamon rolls. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle half of sugar mixture. Sprinkle with fruit/nut mixture. Roll up as for cinnamon rolls. Cut dough in half. Place on cookie sheet. Cut dough with kitchen shears into 1 inch slices. Do not cut dough all the way through, then turn one slice to right, the next to the left until a braid is formed, Repeat with other half of dough. Makes four. Let rise until double. Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until done Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly. Drizzle with confectioner's icing. (For richer icing, add melted butter.)

Yield: 16 servings

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana