I make a double batch of this braided bread every Christmas for the guys at work. Baked early in the morning and drizzled with the icing, served still warm when I get to work… they absolutely demolish it!
Combine cranberries, maraschino cherries, and raisins in a food processor, meat grinder, or baby food mill fitted with the blade. Process until finely chopped.
Transfer the fruit mixture to a saucepan; add sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until quite thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate filling; it should thicken to the consistency of thick jam.
Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave 1 cup butter in a 4-cup glass measuring cup until melted, about 1 minute on high. Add milk and microwave on medium until steaming, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Stir proofed yeast and eggs into the milk mixture. Mix flour and 3 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Pour yeast mixture into the well. Stir until well combined. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate, 3 hours to overnight.
Line 2 baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with 1 teaspoon butter.
Divide dough into 2 pieces. Roll a piece out into 18x14-inch rectangle on the foil. Cut eighteen 1-inch flaps down each long side like the legs of a centipede. Spread 1/2 of the filling down the center strip. Overlap the flaps of dough alternately over the filling, tucking the ends under. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining filling.
Gently curve the tops of the loaves to form a candy cane shape. Leave at least a couple inches all around for dough to expand. Cover with dry towels and let rise until puffed and doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Uncover loaves and bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Mix icing sugar, melted butter, and milk in a small bowl or glass measuring cup to make icing. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag and snip off a bottom corner. Drizzle icing over candy cane loaves while still warm.
Per Serving: 418 calories; protein 5.2g; carbohydrates 66.1g; fat 15.9g; cholesterol 63.3mg; sodium 121.1mg.
The best flavour of the flour can make a real difference to your bread. Different makers do vary. Extra-strong or Canadian flours, which are naturally higher in gluten, may give you a best rise than standard bread flours – especially if you’re making wholemeal dough , which not always rise as well as clear bread.
To make this in a breadmaker , add all the ingredients to your breadmaker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
A dough’s first rising can be done in the fridge overnight . This slows down the time it takes to rise to double its size, giving it a deeper flavour. It’s also a great limit , as you can work it yesterday , then clear it off the next day.