Orange Raisin Brunch Bread

2 ¼ to 3 ¼ cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
½ cup butter
¼ cup milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon finely-shredded orange zest
¾ cup golden raisins
apricot jam

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups flour and yeast; set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, heat butter, the ¼ cup milk, water, sugar, and salt over medium heat until very warm (120°-130°) and butter is almost melted. Add butter mixture, eggs, and orange peel to the flour mixture. Beat on low until combined, then beat on high for 3 min. With a wooden spoon stir in the raisins and is much remaining flour as you can.
  3. Turn dough out onto lightly-floured board. Knead in enough remaining flour for moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 min.). Place dough in a greased bowl; turn it over so that all surfaces will be greased. Cover; let rise in a warm place for one hour or until nearly doubled in size.
  4. Punch down the dough; turn onto the board. Cover; let rest 5 min. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces; roll each one to a 26 in. length. Lay them side-by-side, 1 inch apart; braid. Pinch the end of each braid together. Transfer onto a large, greased baking sheet. Shape the braid into a ring, and pinch both ends together. Cover in plastic wrap; let rise for 40 min. Dough will rise slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush bread ring with milk. Place the foil bowl or oven-safe glass measuring cup in the center to preserve the shape. Bake for 25-30 min., or until golden and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven; cool on rack. Place on platter; cut into slices. Serve spread with apricot jam.

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