Contributed to Recipe Goldmine from the kitchen of Judy/AZ.
I make this bread every Christmas - we love it! I got it out of a Good Housekeeping magazine a few years ago.
4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced mixed candied fruits and peels
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and cardamom.
In a medium saucepan heat and stir the milk, sugar, margarine or butter, and salt until warm (120 to 130 degrees F) and margarine or butter is almost melted. Add to flour mixture along with the egg. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in candied fruits and peels, raisins, walnuts and lemon peel; then stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes) Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).
Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; divide each half into thirds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
With hands, roll each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope about 15 inches long. Line up 3 of the ropes, 1 inch apart, on a greased baking sheet. Starting in the middle, braid the dough bringing the left rope underneath lay down. Repeat to end of loaf. On the other end, braid by bringing outside ropes alternately over center rope to center. (Braid the ropes loosely so the bread has room to expand). Repeat braiding with the remaining 3 ropes on another greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until nearly double ( about 1 hour)
Brush loaves with milk. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped. If necessary, cover with foil the last few minutes to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheets. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves (32 servings).