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Fancy Bread Runner-Up

Fruit and Nut Sweet Bread
Dorothy Schraeder, Timken, KS

1 cup raisins
1 cup water
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup pecan halves
½ cup walnut halves
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried pineapple
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup instant potato flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cubed
½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
6 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon ascorbic acid
1 teaspoon ground mace
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 packages fast-acting yeast
1 cup warm water or reserved
raisin water (110-115ºF)
5 - 5 ¼ cups bread flour, divided

Brown Butter Icing:
¼ cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
¾ teaspoon butter flavoring
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Soak raisins in 1 cup water and let stand overnight. Drain and reserve water. Combine raisins, nuts and remaining fruits; dust with 1 tablespoon flour, set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine boiling water, potato flakes and salt. Add butter and dry milk. Mix well until butter is softened. Add egg yolks, ascorbic acid, mace, sugar and lemon peel.

In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm reserved raisin water. Add dissolved yeast and 2 cups bread flour to the potato mixture. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Add enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough. Knead 10-12 minutes by hand or with dough hook.

Add the dusted fruits and nuts. Knead by hand to incorporate the nuts and fruit into the dough. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover; let rise until double.

Punch dough down. Divide into three equal pieces. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. On working surface lightly dusted with flour, roll each piece into a 22-inch rope. Braid ropes and join ends to form a circle. Place on a greased 18-inch round baking pan. Fill a pint jar half full of hot water and place in center of wreath. Cover; let rise until double.

Bake in preheated 350ºF oven 45-50 minutes or until bread tests done. Loosely cover with foil the last 10-15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack. Drizzle the cooled bread with icing.

Icing: Heat butter over medium heat until light brown. (Be careful not to burn.) Stir in confectioners' sugar, butter flavoring and vanilla. If needed, add 1-2 tablespoons milk to make desired consistency.

Makes 1 large wreath.

KWC Test Kitchen Note: Two smaller wreaths can be made by dividing the dough in half. Braid 3 (18-inch) ropes together; place on greased baking sheet. After rising, bake in a preheated 350ºF oven 25-30 minutes or until bread tests done. Cover with foil the last 5-10 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.

From the contestant - "I found a recipe I liked and added various ingredients, including three different nuts, raisins, pineapple and dried cranberries. These added more flavor and interest to the bread. Using raisin water is practical and adds flavor."