More snow today. 8 inches worth. This does not bode well when winter is still 2 weeks away! I had planned to take today off from work and get my Christmas Bread made. Turned out to be a great day for baking.
Christmas Bread has been a tradition since I was in middle school. In home-ec class, we learned to make a bread called Swedish Tea Ring. Over the years, it has evolved into Christmas Bread because I make it every year for Christmas. It's really quite simple, but wonderfully delicious. You make a batch of your favorite sweet dough (the bread machine comes in hand for this part). After the first rise, you roll the dough out to a nice size rectangle (you want it about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick). Then brush a little (or a lot) of melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon (some years I sprinkle on brown sugar too). Next sprinkle on any or all of the following (really, anything goes here): marischino cherries, chocolate chips, diced apples, raisins, chopped nuts. Roll up like you are making cinnamon rolls starting on one of the long sides and pinch the seam closed. Transfer the rolled dough to a cookie sheet, making sure the seamed side is done, and forming the dough into a ring. Pinch the two ends together and kind of squeeze the filling to get it as even as possible. Use a sharp knife to cut slashes around the top of the ring. Don't cut down too far, just enough so the filling shows through (the original recipe had you slice all the way through around the outside of the ring and then turn the slices so the cut side was showing. This works fine if you use just sugar & cinnamon, but with all the goop I put in, it leaks and sticks to the pan!) Bake at 350 for about 1/2 an hour or until done. These freeze really well, so you can make them well before Christmas and just heat them up Christmas morning. We like to make a powdered sugar glaze to put over the top. Yummy!