Sweet Holiday Bread

Sweet Holiday Bread

makes 3 large loaves, or 4 regular

2 cups milk

 1 cup butter - melted

 1 cup sugar 

1 tsp salt 

9 cups flour - approximate & divided 

2 eggs 

2 pkgs yeast

1/2 cup warm water 

1 tsp. vanilla 

1 tsp. lemon or orange extract

In large bowl, (it's so much easier if you start out in a stand mixer!) stir together milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Slowly stir in 5 cups of the flour into the milk mixture. Stir in the eggs. In a separate small bowl, stir in warm water with the yeast. Let rest for about 10 minutes to activate. In another small bowl, mix vanilla extract and lemon essential oil together. Next, add the yeast mixture and extract mixture to the dough.

Mix in enough of the remaining flour (about 4 cups) to the dough to form a stiff dough. As I'm adding the flour, it begins to get to be too much for my mixer, so i just transfer it to the countertop and finish mixing together there. When you've got an elastic dough consistency that doesn't stick to your hands, knead the ball of dough on floured surface for 5 - 10 minute to get out all of the air.

Grease a large bowl with butter and place kneaded dough inside, turning once to coat the dough with butter. Cover loosely with a damp towel or saran wrap and let rise till double. (This usually takes a couple of hours.) When it's done rising, punch the dough down once to let out all of the air.

Now, you can use this dough for a variety of things. You can spread some out, butter, and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on it and make cinnamon rolls. You can separate and make into rolls. You can make into braided loaves. Or, there's enough dough to make a combination of all of these. Whichever you decide, place your rolled out dough on greased baking sheets and cover loosely. Let rise till double. (Usually takes about an hour or an hour and a half.)

When rising is complete, I like to whisk together an egg yolk or two and brush it on my loaves. It will give it a nicely golden shine when done baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes and/or till golden brown. You may have to cover with tinfoil if the loaf is browning too quickly. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Get ready for your house to smell amazing!!!!!!!

Mary Beth