Franciscan

Baking with Br. Chris

Last of seven parts

Impress your guests

"It’s an impressive-looking bread," Br. Chris Cahill says of Orange Cinnamon Raisin Braid Bread. "That’s why you do it during the holidays." Chris bakes this Christmas Eve morning to serve at a family dinner that night. If there are leftovers, "It’s great toasted."

ORANGE CINNAMON RAISIN BRAID BREAD
(Makes 2 loaves)

Dough:
2 packages active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter or shortening
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp salt
¾ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg

Filling:
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins (or more)

Combine yeast with warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. Heat milk and butter (or shortening) in microwave oven until very warm to the touch or scald the milk on the stovetop. In a large mixing bowl, combine heated milk and butter, sugar, salt, orange juice and orange peel. Add 2 cups of flour, and mix until smooth. Mix in the egg. Add enough remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise for an hour until doubled in size.

For filling, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Punch down the dough and divide it into six equal parts. Taking one part at a time, roll the part into a rectangle 15 inches long. Sprinkle with cinnamon (there is enough for 2 tablespoons for each part) and then raisins. Roll the dough into a rope and twist it about two complete turns.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans. Braid three ropes together for each loaf and place in the pans. Cover and let rise for an hour until doubled. Bake for 30 minutes.

Variations:

Plain Loaf: Instead of braids, divide the dough into two parts, roll each 10" wide and about ½" thick. Put on filling and roll into a large log. This is a little less work but not nearly as fancy.

Mini-Loaves: One friend of mine likes to make six mini loaves. (That’s 18 ropes!) But this is more work than I am willing to do.

Orange Frosting: Combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with 7 teaspoons orange juice. Drizzle over cooled loaves.

(Adapted from a recipe by Elaine Corn in the Louisville Courier-Journal.)

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