Holiday Bread Braid

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An electric mixer fitted with a dough hook makes quick work of kneading the dough.

Holiday Bread Braid

Makes: 16 slices

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Holiday Bread Braid

  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup Marsala, or dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon aniseed, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, approximately


  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted


  1. To make dough: Stir raisins and Marsala (or rum) in a medium saucepan over low heat until the fruit is heated through, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan until the butter turns a light brown, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add milk and oil. Cool to lukewarm and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl.
  3. Dissolve yeast in the water and add to the milk mixture. Lightly beat 2 of the eggs and add to the bowl along with sugar, orange zest, aniseed, vanilla and salt. Gradually stir in just enough of the flour to make a soft dough.
  4. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, or knead by hand for 10 to 12 minutes on a lightly floured surface. As you work, add just enough additional flour to make a smooth, elastic but still slightly sticky dough. (Do not add too much flour or the dough will not rise properly.) Drain the raisins and work in, a handful at a time, until well distributed in the dough.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl; turn to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  6. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Gently punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 14-inch rope. Loosely braid the 3 ropes and firmly pinch the ends together. Transfer the braid to the prepared baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 325°F. To glaze the braid, beat the remaining egg and brush 2 or 3 teaspoons of it over the dough; discard leftover glaze. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
  8. To make icing: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl to make a thick but pourable icing. Drizzle over the warm bread and sprinkle immediately with almonds.


Per serving: 233 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 42 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 169 mg sodium; 228 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Folate (23% daily value), Selenium (16% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 3 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

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Ease of Preparation
Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
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